Mineola Street Fair returns to sunny Jericho Turnpike

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Kids listen to a story at the Mineola Memorial Library's table during Sunday's Mineola Street Fair. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

Jericho Turnpike was drenched with rain on the October morning last year when the Mineola Street Fair was supposed to begin, forcing its cancellation.

But Sunday’s event was drenched in sunlight, drawing thousands of people to the Mineola tradition for its second year on the village’s main thoroughfare.

“I think coming back from that is a pretty big challenge, and I can only imagine that now it’s just going to grow,” said Tony Lubrano, the president of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the fair.

More than 130 local businesses, community service organizations and outside vendors lined Jericho Turnpike between Nassau Boulevard and Mineola Boulevard and a two-block stretch of Willis Avenue.

Musicians and dancers performed on three stages: one on each end of the Jericho Turnpike stretch and one outside the Irish-American Center of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens on Willis Avenue. Children played on inflatable rides and took pony rides.

Local restaurants, including Lubrano’s Piccola Bussola, dished out food ranging from zeppoles and fried Oreo cookies to Italian sausages and gyros.

The street fair moved to Jericho Turnpike from Mineola Boulevard in 2015 before last year’s rainout to give it room to grow. Cathy Sagevick, a librarian at the Mineola Memorial Library, said the event reminded her of the Mineola Fair of the 19th century, an agricultural event that drew as many as 15,000 people.

“It’s good that it’s carrying on the tradition of bringing a community together and highlighting what’s best about it and what’s available to people,” Sagevick said.

The library set up a table at the street fair for the first time this year, where children could sit and hear a quick story. It was a way to make more people aware of the free services the library offers, Sagevick said.

For Mercedes Jacome, the fair fit right into her family’s weekend routine — she and her husband, Albert, and daughter, Kerina, come from Fresh Meadows, Queens, to eat at the Mineola Diner each Sunday.

The trio liked seeing all the shops they sometimes browse out on the street, she said.

“Everybody came out and gave the best that they have so we can buy it,” Jacome said.

Bob Silver of Williston Park was selling his personal collection of memorabilia from beer companies on Jericho Turnpike, but not much of it was moving.

In recent years, people at street fairs seem to be more interested in eating, drinking and giveaways than buying clothes or other items, Silver said.

“I don’t think it’s just here; I think it’s just the trend of street fairs,” said Silver, who used to own an insurance business.

But the fair was bringing plenty of new customers to Las Viñas Pervuian Cuisine at 178 Jericho Turnpike, which was promoting lunch and happy hour specials. Natalia Roldan, a server there, was giving out samples of various dishes and chicha morada, a sweet drink made from purple corn.

The restaurant opened in May 2016 after closing its former Manhasset location, said Roldan, whose mother and uncle own Las Viñas. The fair reconnected the eatery with some old customers who did not know it had reopened, as well as some newcomers, she said.

“All the people that are coming by had no idea we were here, so we’re bringing in a lot of new faces,” Roldan said.

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