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‘Fall’ into the best street fests in town

The autumn street fairs held across the borough not only provide an afternoon of family fun, but also offer a unique perspective on the communities in which they occur.

Indeed, the Flatbush Frolic and Sunset Park Fifth Avenue BID street fair each reflect the individual character of the neighborhoods in which they are held, making each of them a unique experience – not just the usual foray through a shopper’s canyon brimming with tube socks and sausage.

On Sunday, September 14, those who head to the Flatbush Frolic – which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. along Cortelyou Road, between Ocean Avenue and Coney Island Avenue – will have the opportunity to sample the flavors, sights and sounds of this diverse community.

Organized by the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC), the Frolic has evolved over its 31 years to showcase Flatbush’s best. This year, the theme, said Mannix Gordon, FDC’s economic development director, is, “FUN – Flatbush United Nation. We are billing it as, ‘from many places, many shining faces.’”

According to Gordon, “a great number of attractions” at the Frolic are “neighborhood-based.”

Local talent will be on display, he said, at the event’s three stages: the main stage at Rugby Road, the eastern stage at East 17th Street, and the western stage outside of Vox Pop, at Stratford Road. Highlights, said Gordon, include Latin Fever dancing at the eastern stage, which will also host a performance by Tah Phrum Duh Bush, a local hip-hop artist who, said Gordon, “Really shouts out the neighborhood.”

And that’s not all. There are two other entertainment areas: One in front of the subway station near East 16th Street, which will feature demonstrations by Midwood Martial Arts, and performances by Cynthia King Dance Troupe and Casym’s Kids, a steel pan kids’ band; and one in the Public School 139 playground, near Rugby Road, which will feature performances by a variety of kids’ entertainers including Toxic Muffin, Care Bears on Fire and Princess Katie & Racer Steve/Audrarox.

Other highlights of the Frolic, said Gordon, include “a strong environmental attraction area, ‘Our World, Our Responsibility,’” which features a recycling game and a solar power challenge, as well as a sports challenge area, between East 17th Street and Ocean Avenue, which will feature a kids’ basketball tournament and other activities, including Double Dutch and street games, throughout the day.

There will also be two culinary competitions open to Flatbush residents: A baking contest and a chili cook-off. Those interested in participating (in either the culinary competitions or the basketball tournament) can sign up at FDC’s office, 1616 Newkirk Avenue, or by sending an email to Gordon at mgordon@fdconline.org.

The culinarily-inclined may also want to stop off at the Cortelyou Road Greenmarket, between Argyle and Rugby Roads, which will be in full swing during the Frolic, Gordon noted.

Neighborhood artists and the Flatbush Artists Studio Tour will also be represented at the Frolic, at tables clustered between Stratford and Westminster Roads. There will also be an art sale and auction at the eastern stage from 11 a.m. to noon, and again between 4 and 5 p.m.

There will also be two areas of rides, near East 16th Street and near Coney Island Avenue, as well as numerous local vendors, said Gordon, who estimated that about 80 percent of them will be “from the Flatbush area.”

For further information, contact FDC at 718-859-3800.

Sunset Park’s Latin flair will be the headliner at the neighborhood’s annual street fair, also held on Sunday, September 14, on Fifth Avenue from 44th to 59th Street, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Renee Giordano, the BID’s executive director, noted that the festival, “Represents a lot of the diversity of the community.

“Although this is a largely Hispanic community,” Giordano went on, “the people here are not just from one country. We will be having food from almost every country, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico, and we will have people selling music, tapes and clothing from several of the countries.”

The Fifth Avenue festival will have two stages, Giordano said. One, she told this paper, is at 44th Street. “That the heart of the Mexican community,” Giordano went on, “so the majority of the performers are Mexican. Some are community people, some are not.”

The other stage, at 54th Street, will be the community stage, said Giordano, where local performers will have their chance in the spotlight. These include such groups as Young Dancers in Repertory and Tropical Image Dancers, as well as a Latin jazz band, Giordano said.

Other entertainment, she added, is expected to include a magic show. In addition, Giordano said, there will be a hula hoop contest.

The Asian residents of Sunset Park will also be represented at the festival, Giordano noted. “Many of the vendors are Asian,” she remarked, “and we are looking to have some groups singing and dancing.” Among the performers, she added, will be a group of children who participate in the Brooklyn Chinese American Association’s after-school program.

“We are trying to involve the community in the festival,” she emphasized, “not just coming to the festival, but to show off.”

Local businesses also participate, Giordano said. “Last year,” she recalled, “75 or 80 businesses set up outside their shops.”

There’s plenty for kids to do. Between 45th and 46th Streets, said Giordano, there’s a group of free rides, and between 51st and 52nd Streets, there are other free treats, including popcorn, cotton candy, pretzels and spin art. There will also be free face painting at different locations along the strip, said Giordano.

There’s also a wide range of other attractions: Among those mentioned by Giordano are performances by Amerikick karate, performances by the band Close Enough outside Johnny’s Pizzeria at 58th Street, the Fire Department smokehouse, a vintage bus from the Transit Authority that people can go inside, the Brooklyn Public Library Bookmobile and a display from the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

About 30,000 people are expected at the festival.

For further information, contact the Sunset Park BID, at 718-439-7767.

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