Viva La Comida street fair returns to serve up the best of western Queens

Viva La Comida street fair returns to serve up the best of western Queens
Courtesy of 82nd Street Partnership
By Mark Hallum

Viva La Comida is heading back to Elmhurst and Jackson Heights Saturday to showcase some of the best food and entertainment Queens has to offer.

The 82nd Street Partnership, a neighborhood development group founded in 1990, will put on the celebration between noon and 7 p.m. and will feature businesses such as Casa Rivera, Kung Fu Tea and bands including the Cumbia River Band, the Sebastian Cruz Trio, and Spanish Fly.

Casa Rivera is an old-style butcher shop that also sells groceries and has a restaurant with many traditional South American plates on the menu. The establishment is located at 40-15 82nd St. in the thick of the Jackson Heights’ bustling foot traffic.

Delicias Colombianas at 37-03 82nd St. is another neighborhood staple that will be serving up their famous morcillas — or blood sausage — and bandeja paisa, which is a plate that typical consists of beans, rice, chicharrón, plantain and pork.

Viva La Comida will also premiere Salsa Masala: A Jackson Heights Block Party, project from Neil Padukukone which takes the sounds of Latin America, the subcontinent and a variety of African American genres.

Padukukone was a recipient of the Artist Commissioning Program through the Queens Council on the Arts and said “we all feel similar emotions and rhythms, even if they’re in different languages.”

The Sebastian Cru Trio will play original songs in the Colombian style with the band’s namesake on guitar with a bass player and drums.

Spanish Fly consists of 12 musicians in total who are part of a movement to revive Latin boogaloo, which was popular in the 1960s as it emerged from the clubs and streets of Spanish Harlem.

The Queens World Film Festival will host a pop-up film school at the event to expand the public’s photography and filmmaking skills using only their phones. They will also teach attendees how to take the perfect selfie and increase engagement on social media.

Viva La Comida has attracted hundreds of people from across the city to sample the diverse offerings of western Queens and this year will have the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a mobile state-of-the-art audio and video production studio which visits schools and other locations to host day-long workshops with young people throughout the country.

The bus introduces many students to the work of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who was one of the founders, as musicians and as peace activists and how they used their art and celebrity to focus attention on peace. Activism is also a talking point for each visit, but is far from the main objective, according to Rothschild.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.