In June of 2010, when Christina Ha and Simon Tung first opened those ornate metal gates to their weekly, summertime Hester Street Fair, the whole seemed like little more than a knockoff of the ever-growing empire across the river, Brooklyn Flea. Not a bad thing, certainly–the Flea and its food-only counterpart Smorgasburg are among my favorite stops as I make my summer rounds–but I was concerned that Hester might have to be satisfied with B- and C-list vendors, and so wither away.
Not at all. In fact, from what I saw a couple of weeks ago at their usual Saturday gig in the park, as well as several Thursday evenings at their Hester Nights offshoot behind the Eventi Hotel, I'd say that the Hester Street crew has done a terrific job keeping their venture vibrant, surprising, and even destination worthy through the years (check out Hester Street Fair from past years in our coverage on the event from 2011 and 2010).
The Basics of What You Can Expect
If you haven't been before, here are the basics: The Hester Street Fair is located in an enclosed, shady park at Hester and Essex Streets, an area that, in the early part of the 20th century, was home to the city's largest pushcart market. In keeping with the spirit of those community-building gatherings, Ha and Tung have remained committed to giving space to neighborhood restaurants and local craftsman to sell their wares. So even though the Hester Street Fair has the same mix of food and Etsy-type handmade goods that the Flea made familiar, there are enough unique vendors and items on hand to interest even the most seasoned Flea-goer.
Edible and Non-Edible Shopping
For example, among the tasty temptations on sale on the (by the way blistering-hot) day I went were terrific Smoked Pastrami Sandwiches at Ducks, French pastries both sweet and savory at Canele by Celine, some first-rate meatballs at The Deviant Chef, Ethiopian Food from Bunna Cafe, and the always-welcome frozen treats from the La Newyorkina (popsicles) and Melt (ice cream sandwiches) carts. As far as non-edible shopping goes, highlights would include cool jewelry at both the Shopbevel booth as well as Andrea Cobb's Natural Abstract selection; Brooklyn-made stuffed animals at Caitlin Wicker; and from Extracurricular Activities, founded by a pair of recent Parsons' grads, some nicely designed notebooks and such. This is a fun, pleasant scene, and offers a good excuse or anchor destination, for a family visit to the neighborhood.
More Information: The Hester Street Fair
The Hester Street Fair runs every Saturday through the end of October and is located on Essex Street across from the eastern terminus of Hester Street. BONUS: every Saturday in August The Hester Street Fair will be extended into a Night Market! Making this event the perfect thing to do this august with friends or your kids! Hours are 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m.