The organizers of Maker Faire, a county fair that encourages students to engage with technology and crafts, are concerned with the addition of 30,000 to 50,000 people that will descend upon Flushing Meadows Corona Park as part of The Meadows Festival.
The Meadows Festival, a music and art event headlined by Kanye West and The Weeknd, will take place at Citi Field from Oct. 1 through Oct. 2. This is the same weekend as the Maker Faire, which has been held at Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the past seven years. The fair attracts up to 100,000 people to the New York Hall of Science and surrounding park area.
Sherry Huss, the co-founder of Maker Faire, said she heard rumors of the festival in May and found out on June 21 through news reports that The Meadows Festival was confirmed.
“Our big concern is that there has been not much dialogue at all and we’ve spent years working with Department of Public Works, FDNY, NYPD and Parks Department,” Huss said.
Since The Meadows Festival is taking place at the Citi Field parking lot, which is operated by the Mets, Founders Entertainment, which organizes The Meadows Festival, was not required to get a permit from the Parks Department, a spokesperson for the city agency said.
Officials for Metropolitan Hospitality, the group responsible for renting out Citi Field, said they allowed Makers Faire to use the parking lot as a courtesy during past festivals. They reached out to organizers in advance to let them know Founders Entertainment was interested in the space and added that they would work with Makers Faire to accommodate them.
Kerri Lyon, a spokesperson for The Meadows Festival, previously told QNS that organizers are encouraging festival goers to take public transportation and have passed on Citi Field’s offer to use a portion of the lot for parking. Instead, they have said Maker Faire can use it and declined to comment any further.
But Dan Wempa, the vice president of external affairs for the New York Hall of Science said he was told that the entire parking lot was off limits.
“What we were told is that no parking exists anywhere at Citi Field because of the concert,” Wempa said. “There really isn’t any significant parking space available elsewhere in the park, or anywhere else nearby.”
A spokesperson for Metropolitan Hospitality could not confirm whether a portion of the lot would be available to Maker Faire.
Describing the event as a “new-fangled county fair,” Huss said the Maker Faire began 11 years ago and takes place in California, New York and an additional 190 countries that have worked to develop their own Maker Faires. The event encourages children to “become makers of things instead of just consumers of things,” Huss said.
“We’re trying to create the next generation of makers and because things aren’t happening in schools anymore, there aren’t labs or science or engineering, this gives kids a chance to dream,” Huss said.
Wempa said organizers for the Maker Faire have conducted thorough traffic studies to make sure that the community would not be negatively impacted.
“Everything that we’ve developed has been a plan to try to minimize the amount of traffic in the Corona community, to seamlessly get people in the park and not to snarl the neighborhood when it’s happening,” Wempa said. “We’re looking at every possible alternative but there are no easy answers for this.”
Later, in a statement, Wempa called The Meadows Festival a “poorly planned mega concert” and said it was “astounding” that they decided to proceed with the festival when they knew the Maker Faire would also take place then.
“It also threatens to undo a lot of cooperation and engagement that has contributed to the success of World Maker Faire,” he added.