We seem to spend many weekends in Lower Manhattan, splitting our time behind the East Village, the Lower East Side, and Soho/Noho. We love the energy, the diversity, and the restaurants. This past weekend, we visited The Hester Street Fair for our second time. The fair is located in a Lower East Side park that was once home to NYC's largest pushcart market.
According to their website, Hester Street's "mission is to sell quality goods and food, but to also create a space that reflects the dynamic energy of the Lower East Side".
Hester Street's website links to multiple articles about the original and present day Hester Street Market, including a few from the 1800s. I particularly like this gem from an 1887 article:
"It is so infested with peddlers of all kinds of wares, from horseradish to "old clo's," that a pedestrian who attempts to pass through it from Orchard to Essex street must be a skeleton man or take to the road if he is in a hurry."
The fair is in its first year of operation. Founders SuChin Oak and Ron Castellano partnered with the New Museum, The LES Ecology Center, and other organizations to bring the Hester Street Fair to fruition. Each Saturday and Sunday, April through November, a variety of food vendors and artisans sell at the fair. A few of my favorites include Luke's Lobster, Macaron Parlour, Hot Blondies Bakery, Handmade on Peconic Bay, and Kickstand Coffee. Not every vendor shows up every weekend; in fact, there is no contract that vendors commit to: they simply have to pay a fee for a table.
We love the fun, neighborhood atmosphere fostered by the fair (even for those who don't live in the neighborhood!). Vendors set their tents and tables around the perimeter of the park. The middle of the park houses a few additional vendors, as well as a ping pong table and picnic tables. On our first trip, I also saw a tv and wii! The set up encourages snacking, mingling, and sampling. The atmosphere is calm and friendly. Nobody has anything to prove--the vendors seem to enjoy their interactions as much as the customers.
A visit to the Hester Street Fair is a fitting way start your weekend. On Sundays Hester Street Fair operates in conjunction with a Greenmarket (through November) with vendors like Knoll Krest and Fantasy Fruit.