Ask an Akronite where the hippest neighborhood in town is, and they’ll undoubtedly point you in the direction of Highland Square. The eclectic, progressive area is home to dozens of superb, longstanding local businesses, historic buildings and many creative minds. (Earlier this summer, it was announced that the stylish Montrose organic grocery store Mustard Seed Market would be opening their third location here.) On September 3, this year’s installment of the annual arts festival Art in the Square will make one of Akron’s coolest communities exponentially cooler by adding vendors, food, contests and bands. This is the second year for Art in the Square, which has doubled in size following last year’s successful run. Trust us when we say it’s a big deal — they’re closing West Market Street for this. Art in the Square will include nearly 200 vendors (nearly twice those in attendance last year) and a growing number of local musicians, which you can catch on one of the five stages. Among the many acts in attendance, Umojah Nation and Shivering Timbers will be returning for a second year. Buzzbin favorite Hoseff will perform, along with Mustard Seed Market owner Phillip Nabor’s band, Tofu Fighters. These numerous local talents — so many that even area bars will open their doors to help host the acts — will be joined by nationally known names as well. One of the highlights will be a performance by Akron native and saxophonist Ralph Carney. Carney is a founding member of Tin Huey (whose members will be performing with him) and a longtime associate of Tom Waits and Elvis Costello. He has performed with megastars such as Les Claypool, Martin & Wood, the B-52’s, They Might Be Giants and Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, who happens to be his nephew. The music and the vendors aren’t the only draws for Art in the Square this year — there’s also the food, which parallels the unique culture of Highland Square. Don’t expect to find any fried carnival foods here. Instead you’ll catch an eclectic, healthy and locally grown international mix of foods from a huge lineup of Akron’s culinary artists. Once you’re done eating, you can check out any of the different activities going on around the area. Whether you want to try your hand at yoga, get down and dirty with some chalk art or bring Spike down for a pet pageant, you won’t be bored throughout the day. Competitive types, come hungry: Metro Burger, which won awards at the 2008 and 2009 National Hamburger Festivals, will be having a burger-eating contest. For all those budding writers and artists, workshops are scheduled for you to hone your skills. Then you can take those skills to the main room of the Highland Square Branch Library for an open-mic reading event from the University of Akron’s The Upstart Crows reading and writing group, or compete against people like Ralph Carney and Phil Nabors by telling a five- to ten-minute-long Highland Square tale in a storytelling contest. (Think “This American Life.”) Families, bring your kids; a kids’ corner ensures that the younger set won’t be bored. Children’s entertainers will be on hand to provide entertainment for the short set in the form of music, interactive play, magic, balloon art, face-painting, clowns and more. Thanks to the fire and police departments and the city’s cooperation, Art in the Square will once again be able to bring the community together to show off the awesome talent in the neighborhood. The event unites Highland Square Neighborhood Association, the residents and local businesses like Highland Square’s Metro Burger and Angel Falls Coffee. If even a day of Art in the Square isn’t enough for you, don’t worry: The bash continues at Ray’s Pub after the main festivities are over. Be sure to stop by the popular Highland Square bar to prolong the party until well into the night with the cheapest PBRs in the square, along with plenty of other delicious after-party refreshments. The festivities on September 3 last from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Trolleys are available from Merriman to Casterton until 2 p.m.