A popular Bayside outdoor festival is coming back for its second year.
The Bayside Village BID announced the return of the Bell Boulevard Food and Music Fest, which drew in over 1,000 hungry foodies last year according to executive director Christine Silletti. This year, attendees can sample cuisines from over 35 of the boulevard’s restaurants and bars while enjoying local musical talent.
Tickets for the May 19 festival go on sale on Thursday, April 4, and will run from 2 to 6 p.m. Diners can purchase tickets on Eventbrite or in person at several to-be-confirmed businesses along Bell Boulevard. Silletti highlighted the positive feedback following last year’s event and shared that diners will get to choose from even more eating establishments this year.
“We’re advertising 35 restaurants for $30, but it’s higher than that now,” Silletti said. “I’m working with a young man who’s designing our ticket and was wondering how we’re going to fit all the [restaurant names] on it.”
The restaurant stroll includes eateries along Bell Boulevard between 38th and 43rd Avenues and also down 41st Avenue. Participating restaurants include newcomers like Spanglish and Mahjong Cafe which will join festival veterans like Avli The Little Greek Tavern, Nippon Cha, Papazzio, VI Pizza of Bayside, Bourbon Street and Krave It Sandwich Shop and Eatery.
For a $30 flat rate, attendees can taste food from every eatery and will receive a food “passport” to track each restaurant visited. Adult tickets will also come with complimentary alcoholic beverage tastings. Tickets are $12 for children under 12 years old. Same day tickets will also be available and will cost $40 for adults and $15 for children.
Attendees will also get to enjoy a range of live musical acts across several genres including jazz, American standards, country, rock and salsa. Silletti said that the salsa band’s set will include a free salsa demonstration and lesson. Music acts were sourced locally from Bayside and other Queens neighborhoods, but Silletti said that other acts hail from Manhattan, the Bronx and Long Island.
Other free activities at the family-friendly event include a pop-up park, a Skee-Ball arcade, ping-pong and a giant spirograph that uses street chalk to draw.
Silletti shared that the Bell Boulevard restaurant stroll was something she had wanted to do “the minute I got here” due to the abundance and variety of the food establishments in the area. After a successful first run, the BID executive director said that she began planning for the second festival the day after the event ended.
“I got a lot of great feedback from the business owners about what went well and what we should do more of,” she said.
As per business owner feedback, Silletti and the other event organizers decided to expand the festival to make it two blocks longer and close off the entire festival off to car traffic.
“It’s heartening to hear that people have tried restaurants they’re never tried before. That’s exactly what we want,” Silletti said.