lincoln crafts

By Timothy Sandoval

Community Board 7 voted this week to downsize Crafts on Columbus from six weekends a year to three weekends, ending the fall session of the crafts fair.

The resolution represents a compromise between those who wanted to preserve the annual fairs that have been held on Columbus Avenue for 34 years and those who wanted to end them altogether.

Board member Klari Neuwelt, who chairs the board’s Parks and Environment Committee, said the compromise would allow for the craft fairs to be held on three weekends in spring. Previously, the craft fairs had been held six times a year, typically in May and October. The resolution, which was passed by a large majority of members at the Community Board 7 meeting Monday night, would end the craft fairs in the fall.

Neuwelt said the compromise proposal was developed after discussions took place between block associations, concerned residents, those who run a local flea market, and the organizer of the craft fairs.

“I am thrilled to be able to present what appears to be an excellent compromise on this issue,” Neuwelt said.

Neuwelt said she supported the compromise because Lincoln Center holds similar annual craft fairs in the fall and the organizer of the fairs stated that the events were more financially successful in the spring. Neuwelt also noted only about 15 of the roughly 300 exhibitors that come each weekend for the Columbus Avenue craft fairs are local.

In December 2012, the board recommended that the Department of Parks and Recreation not issue a new permit for the fairs. Block associations opposed the fairs, complaining about the foot traffic the fairs bring and noting that they displaced a local greenmarket. But a recent uproar about that decision forced the Transportation Committee to reconsider the matter.

Neuwelt said a group would be created to discuss where to best relocate the greenmarket when the craft fairs are operating in the spring.

Some residents who spoke about the issue espoused support for the fairs and were glad that a compromise had been reached. However, not all were pleased by the compromise.

One resident said cutting the number of craft fairs would hurt local artists’ revenue and was skeptical of the impact of the fairs on local businesses and the problems caused by crowds.

“This motion does not really make a lot of sense and should be considered a nonstarter,” the resident said.

A substitute resolution to hold two fairs in the spring and two in the fall failed before members passed the resolution supporting three craft fairs in the spring.

NEWS | 19 comments | permalink
    1. denton says:


      Of course most vendors aren’t local. Artists and craftspeople can’t afford to live around here any more. They don’t grow tomatoes around here either. So?

      • Howard Freeman says:

        You beat me to the punch.

        These particular fairs — rather than the truly generic ones that hawk italian sausage and Mop-n-Glo products — are enjoyable and part of our community.

    2. Sean says:

      A real estate fair would be more fitting for our area. Who buys crafts anymore anyway except gray hairs. The kids like to furnish their condos to look like hotel rooms.

    3. NikFromNYC says:

      Busybodies chip away at things. They have now killed half of the profit of independent artisans, throwing many of them into potential bankruptcy in our busybody affirmative action housing loan bubble recession and our busybody artificial energy rationing perma-recession. Welcome to the Tea Party, craftspeople. Congratulations on only being half wiped out by the real 1%, the neurotic wives of sociopathic green economy bankers, Enron spawn writ large.

    4. Drew says:

      Glad to see our local Community Boards are focusing on preventing all the difficulties facing the UWS.

      Unique Art Fairs = SHUT IT DOWN!
      “Fairs” on Broadway/Amsterdam that shut down the Avenue to sell Cell Phone cases and fried Donuts = NO PROBLEM
      Homeless Shelters inundating the area/crime on the rise = MEH

      • webot says:

        Well said Drew.

        Where are the priorities?

        • Noreaster says:

          Agreed! Why can’t the community board grow a pair and eradicate the street fairs? It would be SUCH a better use of their time!

    5. diane wildowsky says:

      Well I could just cry. In 1998 I had a small business, which I operated out of my studio apartment on Carmine Street in the Village. I designed, manufactured and retailed a line of clothing for plus-sizes and I did the Columbus Avenue fair. The first day of the first weekend was slow but around 4 p.m. one mother and daughter spotted my signs and before they left they had spent $1,000. You cannot imagine how happy this made me. I did the fair many more times after that at great effort, hauling my tent and supplies by car service from downtown and then packing up at the end of each day only to repeat it all over again early the next morning. But it was always worth the effort. While I don’t have that business any more, I met and made many friends who I still have all from those days on Columbus Avenue. My clothes were even considered for a major motion picture from an actress who liked them and had a role in the film. This action by the Community Board is quite unconscionable. When do we tire of satisfying only the rich? How does this fair negatively impact the neighborhood? I just don’t get it. No streets are closed off. It’s really quite disgusting.

      • NikFromNYC says:

        “How does this fair negatively impact the neighborhood?”

        It’s fun. Enter Devils.

    6. Those Fall fairs meant a lot to us when we were forming our business, back in 1985. We did all the West Side Shows for several years until our success gave us the confidence to open a gallery. Some of our regulars might still remember us, Kiva Trading Company. The Fall shows taught us about inventory shifts towards the Holiday Season and the much-appreciated flow of ideas and request from our regular customers made all the difference. We, like most of the exhibitors, patronized local West Side businesses before, during and after shows. I’m sorry the UWS will lose the convenience of a local crafts show in the Fall. When I lived on the UWS, back in the seventies, I never went South of 72nd unless for work or other business.

    7. Kris says:

      The tradition of this crafts fair twice a year was a good thing for the upper west side. Sorry to see it downsized.

    8. Artist says:

      How sad to lose the fall fairs. I start my Christmas shopping there and find the artists work original and compelling. Out of town guests join me for these shopping excursions. It’s not the same as the work shown at Lincoln Center, which I also support. The fairs are a wonderful part of the fabric of the neighborhood and a terrific venue for our artists.

    9. Harlan says:

      It’s September, and as I started thinking of the holiday gift-giving season I went to look up when the fall Crafts On Columbus would be held . . . . then remembered it won’t. One of the best remaining unique, really artisanal fairs canceled on the most flimsy of grounds. I could easily understand objections to the typical “street fair” that blocks a street, blocks traffic and parking, brings noise and food smells and garbage, and has 95% generic garbage that every other street fair has; Crafts On Columbus is on a non-residential sidewalk, not blocking the street, no food (more business for the local restaurants), and unique quality merchandise. Whoever couldn’t tell the difference should have their eyes examined, if not their head.

    10. Patricia Owen-Smith says:

      For 15 years my daughter and I have been coming to NYC from Atlanta specifically for this crafts fair and we have made many beautiful purchases. I see no compelling evidence for this decision and am deeply disappointed.

    11. AOS says:

      I think this is very disappointing – we’ve supported the event for over a decade and feel it’s an important part of the NYC we know and love.

    12. Jeff Sobel says:

      Now I remember why Imoved out of NYC!

      Ten thousand assholes who think that just because they rent or even own 800 sq ft of the UWS means they control the whole place

      And Cinnubity Board members who cater to the whims of the few crazies whobother to attend their meetings making ill-conceived, uninformed, narrow minded compromise decisions…peoplewho can’t leave well enough alone.

    13. Maggie says:

      It’s just such a shame. These people are systematically destroying everything that makes NYC unique and worthwhile–soon it will all look and feel like the Mall of America. Good job, idiots.
      This fair was a favorite with our family for over 30 years. Beautiful handmade items. Not the usual garbage peddled at a “street fair,” because this was an artisan fair. And this is where I started my holiday shopping. As did many. I don’t believe that the spring one is more lucrative. Idiots are ruining this whole town.

    14. Marjorie Gross says:

      I will miss the fall craft show on Columbus Ave.
      It brought art and interesting people to the scene.
      An uplifting event in this increasingly difficult world.
      When I would look out of my window from 81st St and see the tents, I couldn’t wait to go down and join the festivities.