Brooklyn Heights

Plymouth Church’s 172-year-old Yankee Fair returns on Nov. 2

One of the oldest street fairs in NYC, it once raised funds for the Civil War Yankees.

November 1, 2019 Mary Frost
Plymouth Church's bi-annual Yankee Fair, one of the longest-running continuing fairs in New York City, takes place on Nov. 2. Shown: A performance at a previous Yankee Fair thrilled the audience. Photo by Alan Barnett, courtesy of Plymouth Church

A block party that started more than 170 years ago to raise money for the Yankees — the Civil War Yankees, not the baseball team — will once again take over a block of Orange Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Plymouth Church’s bi-annual Yankee Fair, one of the longest-running continuing fairs in New York City, takes place on Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fair continues much the same as it has for as long as anyone can remember, but has been updated with a few modern twists — such as a bouncy castle.

Plymouth Church, steeped in history, was founded in 1847. Its first minister, the famed pastor Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, presided over the original Yankee Fair with his wife Mrs. Beecher.

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The old fashioned carnival takes place on Orange Street between Hicks and Henry streets, with rides, ponies, entertainment and art activities; inside the hall is a marketplace of handmade crafts, gifts, baked goods, holiday décor and lunch. Adults can enjoy a drink in the Brooklyn Brewery-sponsored beer garden.

This year’s event features performances by Grammy Award–winning duo Dan and Claudia Zanes, The Brooklyn Bluegrass Collective, and magician The Great Charlini.

Bringing back the old days at Plymouth Churh’s Yankee Fair, coming up Nov. 2. Photo by Alan Barnett, courtesy of Plymouth Church
Bringing back the old days at Plymouth Churh’s Yankee Fair, coming up Nov. 2. Photo by Alan Barnett, courtesy of Plymouth Church

Plymouth was a major stop on the Underground Railroad, and Beecher held mock slave auctions there. A secret staircase leads to a system of underground chambers and tunnels, said to be the hiding place for escaping slaves. In 1860, Lincoln made his famous speech against slavery at Plymouth, helping to secure his nomination for president.

During the fair, Plymouth’s History Ministry will provide tours of the church to share its history of social and racial justice work, which continues to this day. A portion of the money raised at the fair will go to Habitat for Humanity New York City.


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