May 7, 2007
NYC: raiding Hell's Kitchen
The 34th Annual Ninth Avenue International Food Festival is almost two weeks away, but today's the day that I'm starting to drool over salacious photos of pastries from Poseidon Bakery in anticipation. It's coming up on May 19-20. One million people show up every year to walk through Hell's Kitchen, from 37th St to 57th St, and stuff their faces with roasted pig flesh, apricot strudel, and gator on a stick. Food photographer Roboppy has many photos of flaky baked Poseidon butteriness on Flickr, and Pop Stand has loads more past festival documentation.
Street fairs are traditionally a source of revenue for the neighborhood associations that sponsor them, and for the local nonprofits that the associations donate to. But the Post reveals today that the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival brought in almost $240,000 at last year's event, but only about $3,500 made it to local organizations. In 1989, $28,000 was donated.
But last year's relatively small donation doesn't appear to be entirely the festival organizers' fault. The 11-day San Gennaro Festival, which in 2005 was able to donate $212,000 of revenue from its street fair to local charities, only broke even in 2006. Expenses have gone way up, and the Ninth Avenue Festival pays more for things like insurance than San Gennaro does, which hardly makes sense since San Gennaro is 9 days longer. Ninth Avenue Association President (and, I think, owner of Poseidon Bakery) Lillian Fable complained that the $48,000 permit fee collected by the city doesn't allow for any surplus revenue to be donated.
Since the city probably isn't going to give up any of the $1.5 million it takes in every year from street festival permits, we can all try to do our part by eating at least 5 times as much gaucho-grilled meat than we did last year. Or if you're interested in donating more directly to local organizations, just write them a check. Hartley House, Fountain House, and Housing Conservation Coordinators are good ones.
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