Last year, I cried with awe at what my son Josh and daughter Elizabeth created when I arrived at the gate for the first World’s Fare at Citi Field. There were sparkling white tents lined up endlessly and the hundred turquoise blue portapotties standing like soldiers prepared for battle.
This weekend, I cried with joy that after weeks of rain, the sun was shining down on us at the second World’s Fare. It featured food, wine, cocktails, dancing, music and merchandise curated by our team bringing vendors from around the world.
I was also impressed by the thousands of visitors who remarkably reflected the bountiful collage of our city.
What an extraordinary accomplishment it was to bring such diversity and make it come alive. The slogan on all the marketing materials was, “Eat. Drink. Shop. Unite.” And I did, as did all those in attendance.
We had two entertainment stages and I adored the energy radiating from the dozens of dancers on one stage representing countries from around the globe. Joan McNaughton, who works with me on sales for the Long Island Press, also owns a dancing school in Rockville Centre. She had helped to curate the dancing groups all stunning in their costumes and passion as they danced while delighting and engaging the audience.
Another bandstand, sponsored by Major World Auto Group in Long Island City, sent music throughout the 900,000 sq. ft. space parking lot facing our favorite team’s stadium.
I had such fun watching my grandchildren running from vendor to vendor, finding their favorite food and drinks, and wanting to visit again and again. My 6 year old Hudson delighted in his vanilla flavored root beer from Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Co. He got a beer mug in rainbow colored metal that he refilled and refilled, it gave me great joy to see his joy with his now “special” drink.
As I walked through the packed aisles, I discovered four remarkable women who brought their wares from their native countries.
I bought a number of bracelets from a wonderful woman from South Africa who is holding her own festival in August and we exchanged business cards and ideas.
Then down the aisle was a stunning woman from Liberia who has created a line of clothing and accessories from her native country but has a “day job” with my favorite designer, Chanel.
Walking just a few steps further down the aisle of the International Merchandise Mart, I found a family from Somalia selling colorful handmade reed baskets from their country. I couldn’t resist buying a few baskets and placemats.
Then I was delighted to see my old favorite vendor from the LIC Flea, Fiza, who sold her stunning sparkling jewelry and accessories for five years and now joined us for the World’s Fare.
I found some stunning earrings and a purse and wished I had more time to browse through her hundreds of pieces.
I’ve chatted with her for years but I never knew she worked at a school in Brooklyn where she works with parents facing immigration issues.
We decided to talk after the Fare to see how my news media can help her with the challenges she hears from the South Asian families in her community.
She started working as a volunteer as president of the PTA and when her term was up, the principal pleaded with her to join the school in a paid position.
As she spoke about her work, I could see the sparkle in her eyes and passion for what she does during the week. We were delighted to welcome her back to the World’s Fare.
The biggest blessing of the weekend was the weather. How blessed we were as the sun warmed us all and added to the positive energy and joyous celebration of our diversity.
There were thousands of people smiling as they walked the “world” of food, drink, music, dancing and merchandise, but I think mine was the biggest smile of all, with my heart full of pride at what my children accomplished!
Hope you were there!