STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Tacos, empanadas, soul food and ice cream are among the “yum” expected at the first Port Richmond Food and Craft Festival. The family-friendly event is free.
It will be held at Veterans Park at Heberton and Bennett streets on Saturday, July 31, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Organizers are a collaboration of neighborhood advocacy group representatives from Port Richmond Strong and the NYPD.
Mario Buonviaggio, vice president of Port Richmond Strong, said, “The whole idea is to revitalize the park and promote small businesses in the neighborhood. This is the best way to promote it.”
Revelers can expect baked goods from Renato’s Bakery plus Mexican fare for sale from Cafe Con Pan and San Geronimo Restaurant and Bakery. Port Richmond native Tex Dawson will vend his renowned pulled pork and mac ‘n’ cheese. (The mobile unit man normally sets up at the DMV.) Crafty items include jewelry and artwork.
“We’re going to provide free ice cream for all that come,” said Buonviaggio. He also anticipates a rock climbing wall, a local grower of organic fruits and veggies plus children’s activities courtesy of Venture House community center.
Vendors are not charged for a spot.
“This is our first time. It made no sense to charge a fee to people who are trying to make it work,” said Buonviaggio. Potential vendors can reach out to Mary Bullock at [email protected]
Free parking is available at Northfield LDC and around PS 20, The Christy J. Cugini Port Richmond School.
Port Richmond Avenue is home to dozens of restaurants and a rich source of ingredients for Mexican and South American cooking. Before the Staten Island Mall’s arrival in the ’70s, the strip between and around Castleton Avenue and Richmond Terrace was one of the main drags in the borough for retail clothing and entertainment. Residents in the area, including the Port Richmond Strong group, have buoyed the neighborhood over the last decade with various campaigns. One effort has aimed to eliminate the blight of empty storefronts. Port Richmond Strong members reached out to property owners to help with lease/sale negotiations and tenant /buyer sourcing.
The group’s mantra sums up the implications of such outreach. It notes, “Successful businesses attract new customer traffic, and customer traffic attracts new customer traffic. Having healthy occupancy is crucial to the success of our commercial district.”
Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at [email protected]