Friday, May 13, 2011

Street Fairs

One example of suburbanization put forward by the book is the blandness of NYC street fairs. These fairs are apparently run by a few companies and tend to showcase the same merchants. This is why last weekend, when I went to the Union Square street fair, I saw three booth selling fries, arepas, grilled corn, etc. Most fairs don't have local merchants because they aren't hired by the fair organizers. The sole exception at the fair that I attended was a small cannolli booth run by Williamsburg's famous Fortunato Brothers (I bought a chocolate one).

Street fairs were originally run by churches and local groups, such as block associations, to raise money for these organizations. People who lived in the neighborhood arranged the event, reached out to local artists and vendors, and actually worked tables. The money was then spent locally by the organization and by the vendors. Now that they are being contracted out, much of the money from the fair goes to the street fair company, and less to the organization and the vendors.

There are still some more locally oriented street fairs throughout NYC. A listing of a few, as well as ideas of how to revitalize the street fair are contained within this report by The Center for an Urban Future:

How do you feel about street fairs? Do you love them, hate them, avoid them, enjoy the fires? Please comment.

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