Urban street fairs and festivals are public indication of the character and uniqueness of the community. They are important commercial activity and most ardent way of enticing people to use the public space. Street fairs, which once created lively gathering spaces, now offer less heterogeneous collections and are not favorable for local vendors to participate. In June 2010, The Center for Urban Future released a report on ‘New Visions for New York Street Fair’. The report discusses about the uninteresting and monotonous fairs in New York, which requires a make over. Many innovators from different disciplines have given their opinions on how to improve the city’s fair. Street fairs evolved as trade markets along the shoreline. Back in 17th century people bought dinners and necessities from street markets. In 19th century people got their every day essential supplies from the pushcarts in the markets. Modern fairs are distinct. It is more of fun, festival and a gathering place (Eldon, Scott, 2010).
Brooklyn’s Atlantic Antic and the Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association Fair in the West Village are still triumphant and lively events of the city. Though the city presents more than 350 street fairs every year, New Yorkers are just exasperated by the sight of vendors selling tube socks, funnel cakes and Italian sausage.Though New York offers phenomenal ethnic diversity of all places in world, the street fairs here lack in show casing the unique identity of neighborhoods, diverse food and local merchants. The study by Center for Urban Future indicates that, nine of the twenty vendors with permits and a quarter of all products were from outside of the five boroughs. The large companies which run majority of street fairs have no incentive to work with business owners, local vendors, cultural groups and artists.The fairs are not tied up with the local communities.
Calrsbad Village Street fair is one of the largest fairs in California with flavorful eats, family entertainments and lot of vendors. But the question is does it offer variety every year? Is it in public’s radar screen? The Sunset Junction street festival featuring Hanson, Bobby Womack and many others is a popular fair in Los Angeles. After 30 years of rich history the festival was cancelled last year as the organizers couldn’t pay the permit- fees payment of $400,000 cost assessed payment for past two years to L.A’s Board of Public Works.
Atlantic Antic Street Fair, Brooklyn, New York.
Street fairs and markets in European and Asian countries have a different style and trend in making it a bustling event. In Paris, La Fête de la Musique is a lively street music festival held every year in June. Hundreds of musicians gather and perform in the streets without a permit. It is one of the popular events that show cases authentic Paris culture and unique features of the neighborhoods in the city. Links market is the longest and renowned street fair in Europe. It has a long history, which dates back to 1304. It is an annual fair in Scotland with thrill rides, coasters, players, shows, carousels, food and shopping. The fair is almost a mile in length along Esplanade, Kirkcaldy, Fife. The Broadway, Portobello, Camden and Borough are few of the most successful markets and gathering place with its exquisite boutiques, fashion, antique collections, vintage clothing and variety of restaurants in London. There are numerous bazaars in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and in every city in India. The streets are crowded and flanked with variety of shops. One could get a sense of Indian culture and literally buy anything you want. Bazaars are successful in India mainly because they are not a dominant commercial establishment but are very local.
La Fête de la Musique- Music Street Festival, Paris
Camden Market, London
Bazaar in Delhi, India
The Dubai street festival is a ten day international street performance, which usually takes place on Dubai Marina Promenade outside Dubai Marina Mall. In 2011, more than 100 shows took place which included escape artists, fire – eaters, clowns, comedy troupes, jugglers and many others. Performers from all over the world participated (The National, UAE news, March 2011). Whether a street fair or a street market or a street festival, it gives people an opportunity to re-imagine what a city can do, how a street can look and what street life in the public realm can offer to a city (Jeff, Risom, 2010).
Links Market, Scotland
It is high time to re-create the street fairs in cities. It should be unique with diversity of products, variety of vendors and should reveal the distinct character of the neighborhoods. The city should join forces with the entrepreneurs, artists and vendors to provide quality street fairs. The permit process and fees should also be made easy and feasible. In this modern iworld it is very essential for people to step out and experience the spirited street life.
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