street fair8

The city wants street fairs to better reflect their neighborhoods so it’s proposing rules that would demand that at least half the vendors come from the local neighborhood.

It’s also planning to limit the total number of street fairs, by capping each community board at 10 street fairs a year. That would reduce the number of Upper West Side fairs. This year there are 13 street fairs — more if you count locally-organized fairs like Bloomingdale Family Days in Manhattan Valley. One reason for the change is to ease the congestion and strain on neighborhoods, the mayor’s office says (we’ve heard plenty of complaints about this issue).

“In calendar year 2016, approximately 200 street fairs will take place, with the majority located in the borough of Manhattan and concentrated in Community Boards 2, 5 and 7. This disproportionate concentration has several negative effects and does not serve the public interest. The high number of street fairs in Manhattan increases traffic congestion and burdens on local communities, particularly within Community Board 5 in the vicinity of Times Square. Multiple street fairs on the same day within the same community board increases the burden on local communities.”

The rules would also limit single-block street festivals to 20 per year.

The city is attempting to spread the street-fair love by issuing fewer permits in Manhattan and more in the other boroughs. For more than a decade, there has been a moratorium on new street fairs, which has kept the fair concentrated in some neighborhoods, while leaving other neighborhoods out.

Already, major street fair operators like Mort & Ray are saying the rules are unworkable, in part because it would be too hard to get that many local vendors and it would make the fairs unprofitable.

To comment on the rule, you can attend a hearing on October 13, or submit written comments. See below for the basic info. And to read more on how to comment, click here.


NEWS | 16 comments | permalink
    1. Paul RL says:

      Local businesses? Great, it will be really fun to take the family for a visit to all the Citibank and CVS booths. But at least the cars will move more freely. What a horrible idea.

    2. ScooterStan says:

      O.M.G. !!!?

      Does this mean fewer than five:
      a) roasted-corn vendors;
      b) Arepas vendors;
      c) Charred-mystery-meat vendors;
      d) cheap Tee-shirt vendors;
      e) cell phone accessory vendors
      AT EACH FAIR!! ?

      And what about Mystery Mops ??

      We are all doomed !!
      (ThisIsTheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt !!!

    3. Jeff G says:

      Love the idea. Not just for the UWS, but being able to visit street fairs in other neighborhoods and experience their unique flavors (and not just fried corn cakes)

    4. Wijmlet says:

      less noise!

    5. Paris Wyom says:

      Reducing fairs. Hooray! Even better, get rid of them entirely. They clog up sidewalks, and streets, creating huge traffic problems for drivers. And make it even difficult to walk on sidewalks and enter stores. Often the smells from some vendors’ foods are rather not nice.

      And after they are over, the city has to send employees and vehicles to clean up messes left behind. Who pays for that?

      I have lived on the UWS since the 1970s. During that time, I have experienced many street fairs. One of them prevented me from getting back into Manhattan via car for more than one hour. I don’t recall ever buying anything from any of them.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “One of them prevented me from getting back into Manhattan via car for more than one hour.”

        First of all…guess what? You WERE in Manhattan! Despite its uniqueness, the UWS is still part of Manahatta.

        Which means that you had access to several subway and several bus routes to get you to your destination…without adding to our chronic air pollution and traffic congestion.

        Cars are for the suburbs, where there is little-to-no public transportation (lest the riff-raff come by and thus lower the precious property values of all the “Kings-and-Queens-of-the-Quarter-Acres”)

        • Paris Wyom says:

          Bad assumption. Why would I say I could not get in Manhattan if I was in Manhattan already??

          I was driving back via a lovely car from far eastern Long Island on a Sunday afternoon and got stuck in Queens for more than an hour due to a traffic mess caused by a street fair on Third or some other East Side Avenue. I have disliked street fairs have since.

          I make a point to avoid them whenever they occur where I live on the UWS.

          Cars are for the suburbs? News to me.

    6. Pedestrian says:

      Is we are really going to prioritize local businesses, let’s do away with the food trucks, the food carts and the out of control commercial land lords!

      I’m not sure the street fairs are really the biggest threat small business on the Upper West Sie have

    7. UWSSurfer says:

      Why must the street fairs all be exactly the same produced by the same company year after year?

      I wish that the fairs were more like Brooklyn
      fleas – varied, artists who make their goods,
      better food options + a Thai food vendor who actually uses sauces on their Pad Thai.

    8. Mike says:

      Has anything stopped local businesses from participating? Why is where the vendors come from an issue? At the recent Columbus Avenue fair there were many blocks with little or no booths, certainly the local vendors had the opportunity to participate but chose not to (like the ridiculous mustard store), so if there’s going to be a fair why not have it contain as much value as the market can offer, regardless of where their brick and mortar location may be?

    9. Gabriel says:


      Too many street fairs with no purpose. I never visit them…all they do is clutter our streets, leave behind garbage and put stress on the neighborhood.

    10. Christine E says:

      The proposed 20 permit limit for single block festivals is a terrible idea. Many of those fairs are major source of fundraising for the sponsor (schools, church, block association, etc.). They are highly community focused, not like the big sock/sausage fairs. And at only 1 block long they are not inconveniencing too many, except possibly parking on that block for a few hours. Most are lovely. If you limit it to 20, there will be many schools and others cut off. I wonder what crummudgeon is complaining about those??

    11. Alan Flacks says:

      Hearings are welcome and obviously serve as the forum to speak about the issue, put and answer questions to clear the air and seek some compromise solution. Too many or too little, local or the “professional” vendors (tube socks & spices) & cet. Street fairs are nice, but shouldn’t be over-whelming. My objection is that N.Y.P.D. personnel are used when as any “attendee” can attest, they are rarely needed. I want the auxiliaries deployed with N.Y.P.D. sergeants supervising.

    12. nina pfeffer says:

      I just tried submitting an email to SAPO about the street fairs, and got an automated response saying public comments were ended as of AUGUST 13th 2016! Huh?