The Street Fair

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Eighth Avenue Fall Festival, NYC

View south down 8th Avenue, September 18, 2011

View south down 8th Avenue, September 18, 2011

I checked into my hotel on Sunday and walked out immediately to head to the the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. As I turned onto 8th Avenue, there was something not so common in my experience of New York – no cars.

Eighth Avenue Fall Festival, NYC

Lemonade stand.

Lemonade stand.

At first it was exhilarating. Sunshine. People. No traffic. A kind of marketplace. What was not to like? I decided to walk down to Times Square to catch the 7 out to Queens.

Eighth Avenue Fall Festival, NYC

Murano Style Pendants

Murano Style Pendants

As I walked down the Avenue, I noticed what seemed to be an inordinate number of stands selling “murano-style” glass for $3. There didn’t seem to be any clear difference between the stalls.

Eighth Avenue Fall Festival, NYC

Pashimas

Pashimas

There were also pashminas and scarves being sold at nearly indistinguishable booths.

Eighth Avenue Fall Festival, NYC

New York Candy Apple

New York Candy Apple

Although this booth was no candy ass copy, almost worthy of the State Fair

Eighth Avenue Fall Festival, NYC

The New York Times

The New York Times

And it was good to see The Times reaching out to its neighbors with a robust absence.

Eighth Avenue Fall Festival, NYC

Sound Activated LED T-shirts

Sound Activated LED T-shirts

The LED T-shirts were hard to pass up.

Eighth Avenue Fall Festival, NYC

1200 Thread Count Egyptian Comfort

1200 Thread Count Egyptian Comfort

But it was the repetition that stood out more than the “unique.” I did some very minimal research, and it appears that this “fall festival” is organized by a street fair organization, Mardi Gras Festival Productions,which, presumably arranges street closure permits with the city and sells space to vendors.

Feast of San Gennaro, NYC

Feast of San Gennaro, NYC

Feast of San Gennaro, NYC

Nothing wrong with producing a commercial street festival. The street is still closed. The traffic absent. But it’s not the 85th Feast of San Gennaro, which also, of course, sells space to vendors, where I witnessed the pizza pie making contest a couple of days later.

Bust Magazine Craftacular

Bust Magazine Craftacular

Bust Magazine Craftacular

Nor was the Eighth Avenue “Fall Festival” the Bust Magazine Craftacular at the World Maker Faire, which sold “not your mother’s crochet” and other artisan gewgaws that you can’t live without.

My point is not to run down the Eighth Avenue Fall Festival per se. It’s unexceptionally true that not all street festivals are created equal. It’s less obvious how to “give back the streets” without still withholding their control. The commercial market stunning set on 8th Avenue, the fun artisan market with a $28 entrance fee to Maker Faire, and the authentic community festival, also on the streets, are three options.



1. I checked into my hotel on Sunday and walked out immediately to head to the the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. As I turned onto 8th Avenue, there was something not so common in my experience of New York – no cars.

At first it was exhilarating. Sunshine. People. No traffic. A kind of marketplace. What was not to like? I decided to walk down to Times Square to catch the 7 out to Queens.

2. As I walked down the Avenue, I noticed what seemed to be an inordinate number of stands selling “murano-style” glass for $3. There didn’t seem to be any clear difference between the stalls.

3. There were also pashminas and scarves being sold at nearly indistinguishable booths.

4. This booth was no candy ass copy, almost worthy of the State Fair

5. t was good to see The Times reaching out to its neighbors with a robust absence.

6. The LED T-shirts were hard to pass up.

7. But it was the repetition that stood out more than the “unique.” I did some very minimal research, and it appears that this “fall festival” is organized by a street fair organization, Mardi Gras Festival Productions,which, presumably arranges street closure permits with the city and sells space to vendors.

8. Nothing wrong with producing a commercial street festival. The street is still closed. The traffic absent. But it’s not the 85th Feast of San Gennaro, which also, of course, sells space to vendors, where I witnessed the pizza pie making contest a couple of days later.

9. Nor was the Eighth Avenue “Fall Festival” the Bust Magazine Craftacular at the World Maker Faire, which sold “not your mother’s crochet” and other artisan gewgaws that you can’t live without.

10. My point is not to run down the Eighth Avenue Fall Festival per se. It’s unexceptionally true that not all street festivals are created equal. It’s less obvious how to “give back the streets” without still withholding their control. The commercial market stunningly set on 8th Avenue, the fun artisan market with a $28 entrance fee to Maker Faire, and the authentic community festival, also on the streets, are three options.



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