For each of the 39 years it’s existed, the Williston Day Street Fair has been an occasion for neighbors to reconnect.
Williston Park residents say hello after returning from their summer trips, and some who have moved away from the village “just come back to enjoy it,” said Lucille Walters, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce of the Willistons, which sponsors the fair.
The fair’s attractions will be similarly familiar at this year’s fair on Sunday, Sept. 19 — about 100 local businesses and community organizations will line Hillside Avenue alongside more than 100 other vendors, Walters said.
Firefighters will grill burgers and hot dogs, and kids can compete in the annual hula hoop contest, one of the fair’s biggest draws.
Walters and her team of about 10 chamber members have created a winning formula over the years that draws hundreds to the Williston Park institution, she said.
But they hope more young people will step up to carry the torch, she said.
“Over the years we try to add different things to it, so I’m up for suggestions,” Walters said. “I’m beginning to be at a loss for what else to put in there.”
The street fair is one of a few on Long Island that is put on by a local chamber rather than an event-planning company, Walters said. The Mineola Street Fair is also locally run, but the New Hyde Park Street Fair and others are at least partly organized by outside contractors.
The fair is a good place for service groups to raise money and for businesses to connect with new customers, Walters said.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase your business to the community — even if you’ve been in the community for years and years and years, there’s always new people moving in,” she said.
Among those returning to the fair are 11-year-old Skye Blau and her lemonade stand.
Skye and her father Bill, East Williston residents, first set up the stand in 2014, following her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. They donated $3,000 to the group last year.
There will be a wealth of food options from restaurants such as the Spanish eatery Sangria 71 and local mainstay Memories 2. In addition to the hula hoop contest, kids can take in carnival rides, pony rides and a petting zoo.
Walters said the chamber is working on special plans for the street fair’s 40th anniversary next year. She hopes to bring back a farmers market, which was new at the 2016 fair but did not return this year, she said.
But regardless of what’s new or old, there’s one steady indicator of the fair’s success, Walters said: the weather.
“As long as it’s a nice day, people have a great time,” she said.
The Williston Day Street Fair runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Hillside Avenue in Williston Park between Willis Avenue and the Long Island Rail Road tracks.