It’s Fiesta time on Graham Avenue, this Saturday, May 18

May 15, 2013 Heather Chin
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Now that it is spring and May sunshine has brought out the flowers and the foodies, there is a lot for Brooklynites to do each weekend. But this Saturday, May 18, make sure to take some time to hit up the annual Graham Avenue Fiesta!

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the stretch of Graham Avenue between Broadway to Boerum Street will be filled with people dancing, singing, snacking, shopping and all-out celebrating the Williamsburg community. A truly local event, the majority of vendors are local businesses, restaurants and performers, with only a few outside vendors topping off the festivities.

“Every year it’s special because we have a huge community stage and besides just entertainment, locals who come and volunteer their time are really talented, singing, dancing and rapping,” said Betty Cooney, executive director of the Graham Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), which has hosted the event every year for over 13 years. “It’s a fiesta — it’s a celebration of the community and every year we get a huge crowd.”

In that community spirit, “we started a policy 10 years ago where our stores don’t pay any fee to have space because we want everyone to support their local stores,” explained Cooney. “If they don’t take the space, then we sell it, but we prefer to have our stores be visible. Over the years, we have had more and more people joining in.”

This year, both returning and new acts will take the stage and the streets. Latina music groups will again make an appearance in the afternoon, along with great bands — every year is something different — such as Ragatan artist Candelo, from Puerto Rico, and Edwin Velazquez (“he doesn’t need the exposure, but he comes anyway to support us”).

Among the new acts are a rhythm and blues band called Dry State, dancers from the Brownsville Development Council, the Catahoula Cajun Band, a folk group, and the J-Notes — led by a local guy named Maicol, who writes his own music and is graduating from college this year (“I’m so proud of him,” remarked Cooney).

Local leaders will also be making an appearance, including Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Meanwhile, leading local eateries will also be on hand, such as The Princesa Bakery at 94 Graham Avenue. According to Cooney, “their Cafe Con Leche are delicious, but their cakes are to die for.”

There will also be health screenings from Woodhull Hospital, job information and recruitment from the FDNY, phone etchings from the NYPD, and other activities from the Hispanic CHamber of Commerce, St. Nicks Alliance, Latinas Against NYFD Cuts, NY Peace Institute, and Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow.

Sponsors include WellCare, Affinity and HealthFirst.

“We don’t take money to make money, so anything we take in goes into the community: our youth market, youth jobs, street cleaning, and whatever we can do for [our neighbors],” added Cooney. “Every year, it’s live music all day long. Even if you can’t afford to spend a whole lot of money, you can come down and enjoy the day. There’s something for everyone and not too many people are doing that anymore.”

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