So much goes on around New York City and I love it! Spring kicks off the season for street fairs and festivals. It’s one of the unique things we experience living in New York City. You can be out for the afternoon just strolling around the city and then you stumble upon a street fair or festival. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon one taking place near Lincoln Center.
As you might expect, a street fair is an event that celebrates the character of a neighborhood. It is a fair at which food and goods are sold, information may be conveyed, and sometimes performances and parades are held in conjunction with the fair.
As you might imagine, some street fairs and festivals have a particular theme or focus like Queens Pridefest and Brooklyn Pride Festival, The Romania Day Festival, Grand Central Food Fair, the 9th Avenue International Food Festival, and who doesn’t know about the annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy.
Then there are similar events but not necessarily ones labeled a fair but still taking place outdoors on the streets of the city. The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit is an example of other events taking place in the streets.
Most street fairs are dominated by vendors selling things:
Food items include italian sausages, falafel, kebabs, breads and cakes, fruit smoothies, Asian noodles, and “Mozzarepas,” and crepes.
Typical apparel includes, socks, souvenir T-Shirts, sarongs, and scarves.
There are also a range of accessories and household items ranging from handmade purses and belts, silver jewelry, cell phone covers, caps, small leather goods, cosmetics, and bedsheets.
Other handmade or crafted items include soaps, essential oils, mix-tapes, pottery, framed photos and artwork, and pillows.
Not only are street fairs fun to attend, they are great places for vendors to earn some money, test out new products, and to distribute information. As I strolled through the fair, I found the following vendors of particular interest for their products and their business endeavors:
Booqoo Beignets is the creation of Matthew Pace, a New Orleans native now residing in New York City. I had the pleasure of meeting Matthew who shared with me his story of working on perfecting his recipe and his goal of bringing the culinary history and culture of New Orleans to New York City. On the day I met him, he had run out of his supply for the day so unfortunately, I did not get a chance to taste the beignets, but other reviews are very positive. Jane Seo at Huffington Post labeled Booqoo Beignets a “Sweet Favorite” when she wrote about last fall’s Vendy Awards. Booqoo Beignets will appear at other fairs, festivals, and pop ups throughout the year.
Bundts NYC, owned by Randall Grant is a Queens based bakery service offering over 15 cake flavors. When I met Randall, the Bundtmeister, I could immediately tell he puts care, love, and thought into every ounce of his cakes, his business, and his customers. I approached his stand asking about the coconut mini bundt. He said he was sold out. He also indicated his last one, that wasn’t on display, wasn’t up to his selling standard. He wasn’t happy that it was a bit over baked and too brown. When I purchased the chocolate chip flavored one he offered the coconut one for free. Both turned out to be delicious! And the coconut, although it wasn’t up to his selling standards, was very moist and had the right level of coconut flavor. I enjoyed it and I’ll be going back for more!
With the shift away from colas and sugary drinks, big beverage companies are exploring alternatives such as flavored waters. I enjoyed seeing artisanal soda company Brooklyn Soda Works on hand allowing passersby to taste their uniquely flavored sodas. Brooklyn Soda Works juices fresh fruit sourced from the region (upstate New York, Long Island, and New Jersey), adds fresh herbs and spices, water and CO2. Their flavored sodas are served in several bars and restaurants in New York City and you can find them attending fairs and markets. They can also cater your next event to make it stand out. The sodas were refreshing, fun, and damn good!
More Good, based out of Beacon, NY, was sampling their hand-crafted syrups, Drink More Good, which use raw organic cane sugar, distilled water, and hand-crushed herbs and spices. I tasted the Hibiscus Rooibos and the Cassia Kream with some seltzer. The flavors were enjoyable, unique, fresh, and light (meaning not overwhelming or overbearing). The syrups can be used as mixers to flavor seltzer water and cocktails or used in cooking and baking.