You really begin to realize how populous Brooklyn is when the annual autumn street fairs draw out the crowds.
Given clear skies, the Third Avenue Festival is expected to draw upwards of 300,000 people to the Bay Ridge shopping strip. Under the same conditions, the Atlantic Antic usually attracts more than a million people to the fabled thoroughfare. Both festivals will be held on Sunday, October 4th.
But, the festivals are not just big parties. Rather, the Third Avenue Festival (in Bay Ridge) and the Atlantic Antic (on the border of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill) reflect the individual character of the neighborhoods in which they are held, making each of them a unique experience.
Celebrating, Bay Ridge Style
The Third Avenue Festival will take place between 69th and 94th Streets, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
One of the longest running street fairs, the Third Avenue Festival is now in its 36th year, a testimony to its perennial aura of excitement, noted Chuck Otey, the marketing director for the Merchants of Third Avenue, the group that sponsors the yearly event.
That excitement will be generated at least 10 different locations along the length of the festival, said Chip Cafiero, the festival organizer, with the main stage located at 81st Street.
However, concern about the amount of noise generated over the course of the day has somewhat altered the offerings, he added. “We want to bring back a more family-oriented festival,” Cafiero told this paper. Among the entertainment he is planning are a jazz band, a Dixieland band, “more kid stuff, some small-town-type things, more magicians and jugglers. We’re hoping to get square dancing back, and more things for seniors,” Cafiero confided. “We’d like to get more of the merchants to sponsor those types of things instead of putting rock bands outside. It will still be enough entertainment to make it the best festival anywhere.”
Besides the entertainment, there will be three kid-oriented areas, Cafiero added, one at 69th Street, one around 80th Street, and another at the upper end of the festival.
There will also be heavy participation by non-profit organizations. “Last year,” Cafiero recalled, “we had close to 50 not-for-profits. That’s an amazing amount, but we like that. It’s what keeps it a community event.”
In terms of innovation, this year’s festival will be “the first green festival,” noted Otey. “We are going to give an award to the most original and imaginative green display,” he added, pointing out that competition is likely to be strong, given the plans that have been shared with him. Among them is a hot tub whose water is warmed by solar energy, put together by Super Roofer. “We are going to invite (City Councilmember) Vinnie Gentile and (State Senator) Marty Golden [the former a Democrat, the latter a Republican] to sit down in the hot tub together, “ Otey went on.
Other green displays in the works include one at Tri and Run for Your Life, where the plan is to get bicycles set up on a platform and hooked up to a screen which will display how many kilowatts are producing by the biking activity, Otey said, a well as another at a Verizon store on the strip where festival-goers will be able to charge their cell phones using a solar panel on display.
For further information on the festival, log onto the Merchants of Third Avenue’s website, www.thirda
Whooping It Up, Downtown
The mile-long Atlantic Antic may be the biggest of the borough’s street fairs, encompassing Atlantic Avenue between Hicks Street and Fourth Avenue.
Now in its 35th year, the Antic, which is put on by the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation and which will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is an extravaganza in every way.
“It’s one of Brooklyn’s largest street fairs, an a wonderful, family-based community event,” enthused Angela Ferrante, the LDC’s president. In part, she added, this reflects its location. “Atlantic Avenue is really an artery of downtown Brooklyn connected many, many neighborhoods,” Ferrante explained.
“It’s going to be as packed as it’s been in years past,” noted Christian Haag, the LDC’s vice president. Despite the shaky economy, he said, “The vendors are coming out in full force, and we hope the public comes out in full force, as well.”
“We’re looking to bring the community closer together,” added Emma Parnass, of Auster Events, the production manager for the Antic. A key, she added, is shininga spotlight on the diversity of the strip. “We want to show what Brooklyn and Atlantic Avenue are all about.”
Among the highlights of the Antic will be nine stages along the avenue, featuring a dazzling array of performers. Among the stages are one outside Last Exit, featuring French rock and pop and a demolition string band; one outside the Waterfront Ale House, with blues performances; one outside the Chip Shop, with British beat pop; the Amera-Aba stage where performances will include belly dancing and middle eastern music; one outside Brazen Head, with jazz music; one outside Downtown Atlantic, featuring blues; and one outside Hank’s Saloon, featuring alternative country music.
In addition, there will be a children’s stage near Hicks Street, outside Moxie Spot, and another outside Gumbo, between Third Avenue and Nevins Street. Kid-oriented activities and rides will be located in two areas, one near Hicks Street, and one between Boerum Place and Smith Street.
A wide array of food is a feature of the fair, as well, which comes as no surprise, given the range of restaurants along the thoroughfare.
One innovation for 2009 is a competition to determine the best food vendor at the Antic. Festival-goers will get ballots to fill out at the food stands, and can hand them in at specific locations along the strip.
And, for those who worry about eating too much, they can take heart and follow the lead of Antic organizers, who developed a new theme for the event: “Eat it at the Antic, walk it off on Atlantic.”
Festival-goers also will have the opportunity to explore old-fashioned transportation venues, because, on Boerum Place, the Transit Museum holds its annual festival featuring antique buses on the same day as the Antic. Free admission to the Transit Museum on Schermerhorn Street, is also offered on Antic day, between noon and 5 p.m.
For further information, contact the Atlantic Avenue LDC, at 718-243-1414.