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Atlantic Antic

- BAM - Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 : goo

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It was a sunny day with a blue sky , perfect weather for the 33rd annual Atlantic Antic street festival this past Sunday. Thousands of people roamed the 10 blocks, sampling the variety of food, and browsing hundreds of vending and informational booths.

“This is the best street fair in New York,” said Lew Hoens, 33, as he sipped a plastic cup full of beer and listened to a jazz band play on one of the 10 stages. “It’s very relaxed, very community.”

Most of the vending was artsy and handmade and the festival had a down-to-earth atmosphere.

Denise Delong, 33, of Williamsburg, has been selling her ceramic works of art at the festival for the past three years. “People come to this street fair looking to buy artwork and crafts,” she said from behind her booth filled with ceramic tiles etched with scenes of New York City, and sculpted ceramic boat cleats.

Throughout the festival there were hundreds of booths filled with handmade clothing, silk screened t-shirts, paintings and photography. One booth had big wooden sculptures of things like bears that looked like they belonged in the yard of someone who lived in the Catskills.

A booth filled with silk screened t-shirts of images like subway maps and elephants was swarmed with people, asking the artists about prices, stores, business cards and sizes. “It’s been busy. I’m surprised at the turnout,“ said Cora Fisher, one of the designers.

“This is by far the best street fair,” said Maryanne Loverme, who has been coming to the festival every year for most of her life. This is her first year as a vendor, though, selling her handmade decoupage jewelry that she makes as a hobby.

Micah Kraus has traveled to the Atlantic Antic from Akron, Ohio for the past two years to sell the t-shirts that he designs and silk-screens along with his two other colleagues for their company, Campfire. He likes the environment of the festival, and the business is well. “There are nice people around,” Kraus said.

There were also many vending booths selling random things from Tupperware to antique furniture, to fuzzy haired marionette puppets and old vinyl records.

But there was still the familiar smell of fried dough and Italian sausages, and kiosks in the middle of the road selling the typical tacky souvenir blow-up hammers and Sponge Bobs.

Little children with their faces painted like cats and amphibians held their parent’s hands and clutched balloons with the other. A man selling cotton candy weaved through the crowd. A woman drawing caricatures smiled in her booth.

Carolyn Byrd, a Brooklyn mother waiting in line for face-painting with her two young daughters, said it was her first year attending. A friend had told her it was a good place to bring her children. “I’m enjoying it here a lot,” Byrd said.

Every few feet there was a different aroma, and a different type of music playing. There was the smell of barbecue while walking past a New Orleans jazz band playing on the side-walk. While walking past the cover band playing “Everybody Look What’s Goin’ Down,” there was the spicy-sweet smell of Indian cuisine. Belly dancers moved on another stage while hand drums were played. A funky church choir belted out songs on the sidewalk, and a huge crowd of people were watching, clapping, singing and dancing along.

Multiple booths were selling fried mozzarella. People walked down the street eating grilled corn-on-the-cob. A man yelled at the top of his lungs trying to sell his ice cold lemonade from his booth, while a crown gathered around to buy the refreshing drink. A man and a woman were out in the crowd, trying to recruit people to purchase their pints of wine sorbet. An older, Spanish speaking woman pushed a metal Italian ice cart through the crowd, serving it in small wax covered Dixie cups.

There were also countless informational booths. Several booths promoting things like health insurance, fitness centers and the Brooklyn Birthing Center had people gathering around. There were booths representing the District Attorney’s Office and the State Troopers. There was a booth representing and Arab-American support group. A woman named Nan Blackspear manned a booth representing the borough president, Marty Mankowitz, which was covered with pamphlets informing about issues and events in Brooklyn. She offered advice to a woman about voter registration. A lonely psychic sat at her table, her chin in her hands, staring off into space.

Every few feet there were flyers being shoved in people‘s faces. One urged the withdrawal of the troops from Iraq. Another advertised a march against the profiteering health industry. There were people asking passers by to fill out surveys, or to sign up for the latest movie theatre discount card.

Even the policeman seemed like they were enjoying themselves. They were leaning on the blue barricades at the end of every block, laughing, eating and conversing. “There’s been a lot of people. We’ve just been keeping people from getting hit by cars,” said Sgt. Palermo. “It’s a very good crowd.”

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