Viva la Comida returns to Jackson Heights for third year

By Bill Parry

The cultural diversity of Jackson Heights will be on display at the third annual Viva la Comida festival Saturday.

The 82nd Street Partnership’s free event, in the area surrounding Dunningham Triangle on 82nd Street, is from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We’ll close off the street from Roosevelt Avenue south to Baxter Avenue and all of the restaurants, bakeries and service providers will open their doors,” 82nd Street Partnership’s Sophia Davila said. “It’s an effort to foster local entrepreneurship as well as the local art scene with plenty of live jazz and roots music as well as a D.J. spinning all day.”

In addition to the local eateries, a fleet of food trucks was handpicked by event co-founder Jeff Orlick to take part in this year’s festival, including local favorites such as The Chipper Truck, Morocho and Tacos La Familia. Each will offer special prices and portions to festival-goers.

Maria Cano will take part after missing last year’s festival. Known around Jackson Heights as the Arepa Lady, Cano will grill her familiar Colombian corn cakes from the food cart she used for decades before opening her first restaurant, called the Arepa Lady, at Roosevelt Avenue and 77th Street, in June.

“I’m looking forward to Viva la Comida,” Cano said through a translator. “These events are always interesting and bring a lot of new faces to the neighborhood. It’s always good for business because people try my food for the first time and they may come back to my restaurant.”

There will also be a local pop-up crafts market for local vendors, such as Laura’s Jewels, Queens 77, Design for You and Lithos du Monde.

There will also be a special dance performance by the Urzua Center for the Performing Arts.

“Urzua is also organizing a dance competition for kids for the first time,” Davila said. “That should be a lot of fun.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr‌y@cng‌local.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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