Great Neck Plaza AutoFest hopes to drive up attendance with student help

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A sampling of cars from a previous AutoFest and Street Fair. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District)

While cars will remain the focus of this year’s AutoFest and Street Festival in Great Neck Plaza on Oct. 21, event organizers said they plan to introduce a new component: showcasing student talent.

The AutoFest and Street Festival, an annual event along Middle Neck Road for at least 30 years, is organized by the village’s Business Improvement District. It attracts antique cars, thousands of people and usually features a series of rides and carnival-like attractions.

“We changed the format,” Jay Corn, vice president of the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District, said in an interview. “Instead of the games, the rides, the petting zoo and the pony rides, we are going to showcase the talent of our community’s children in music and art, and offer fun, sports-oriented games that will offer opportunities for the kids to win prizes.”

Ron Edelson, the executive director of the improvement district, said that there will still be rides geared toward younger children. But organizers are also planning to have a rock-climbing wall, bouncing houses, and games in karaoke, making holes in one, pickleball and basketball foul shooting, Edelson said.

Edelson said the BID plans to reach out to all education organizations and schools in Great Neck to offer the opportunities to have students perform for the community and have artwork displayed, as well as clubs and parent groups.

“The cars will still be on Middle Neck Road this year,” Edelson said, noting the planned appearance of a 1908 Rolls Royce. “But the big change is that on Bond Street and on Grace Avenue, we will hopefully have all these activities designed to showcase the enormous talent of our community’s young children and teenagers.”

Superintendent of Schools Teresa Prendergast did not respond to a request for comment.
Ultimately, Edelson said he hopes the street festival will become a celebration of “everything Great Neck.”

“We start this year and, if successful, we build each year, and get bigger in each subsequent year,” Edelson said. “The more we can engage our community – children and adults – the more community spirit is generated. In the end, that is good for everyone.”

The AutoFest and Street Festival will take place on Sunday, Oct. 21, in Great Neck Plaza from noon to 5 p.m. The rain date is Oct. 28.

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