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BayFest will be a Bay feast! Annual street fair to include food, giant potato truck

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Sheepshead Bay’s annual street festival will feature a special guest this year — a giant potato.

The Big Idaho Potato Truck — imagine a spud-inspired Oscar Mayer mobile, but bigger — is making a stop at the Bay Improvement Group’s BayFest on May 18 along the Sheepshead Bay Waterfront, from Emmons Avenue and East 27th Street to Pier 10.

The mobile murphy, which is hauled on an oversized 18-wheeler, is expected to draw attention to another BayFest first — on-street food vendors representing an eclectic mix of local eateries. And organizers said the super spud won’t be as out of place as one might think among examples of the area’s many ethnic cuisines.

“The potato is a staple of so many foods — Russian, French, Uzbek — so it is a great match for the variety of restaurants in Sheepshead Bay,” said Laura McKenna, executive director at Bay Improvement Group.

In past years, the celebration of all things Sheepshead Bay did not allow food vendors, for fear they would compete with neighborhood restaurants, according to Bay Improvement Group president Steve Barrison.

But this year, the organizers found a way to have their cake and eat it too — by inviting local eateries to provide samples from their menus, thus feeding the fair-goers and promoting local businesses.

The participating restaurateurs couldn’t be happier with the new policy.

“I’m very excited — it’s a real big opportunity for us to promote our culture and our food,” said Ivane Shaishmelashvili, who owns Georgian restaurant Apani.

Shaishmelashvili said he’ll be serving up Georgian potato pies to keep the tater theme rolling.

Another eatery entrepreneur praised the Fest for thinking local.

“I know that they’re trying to be very business friendly in not bringing in outside food vendors, and doing the samples now is taking that up a notch,” said Il Fornetto owner Angelo Viscoso.

Viscoso plans to buck the tuber trend, however, by serving a veal ragu — but for good reason, he said.

“We picked our most popular dish,” said Viscoso.

Of course, the live music and children’s games will make a comeback, as well as information on Hurricane Sandy aid.

This year, Brooklyn’s own Adriana Louise — of TV’s “The Voice” fame — will take the stage, along with vocalists Darnaa and Michael Lynch, and Beatles tribute band Strawberry Fields.

But food purveyors say the free grub will be this year’s big draw.

“Who wouldn’t want free food — good food at that?” Viscoso said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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