Slice of Life

Westcott Street Cultural Fair celebrates 25 years

Courtesy of Westcott Street Cultural Fair

25 years ago, the first fair was held in Westcott to boost community morale and stir the neighborhood's economic and cultural pot.

For the past 25 years, Syracuse’s Westcott neighborhood has hosted the Westcott Street Cultural Fair. The event celebrates the diversity and culture of the area’s residents. Local musicians, organizations and restaurants will come out to support the community on Sunday.

The fair first began in 1992 by a group of local volunteers, and its original purpose was to revitalize the Westcott area.

“We were getting in a period where there was this thought that the Westcott neighborhood was maybe going down a bit,” said Sharon Sherman, chair and treasurer of the fair. “There wasn’t as much interest in buying and preserving older homes. So that’s where the effort started, and it has grown tremendously.”

Over the past 25 years, the event has grown from a way to boost to stir economic development to being a hallmark of the area. The fair also spotlights the organizations that the Westcott community has to offer. More than 40 organizations have donated to this year’s fair, and there are more than 120 booths.

“About 60 percent of the booths are arts and crafts, crafters selling jewelry and things like that,” Sherman said. “But Westcott has a pretty funky, diverse neighborhood. We have lots of local organizations about animal rights, environmental rights, legal services, the ACLU. It matches our neighborhood because over here there are so many activists.”

The fair represents a lot to the Westcott community, but it still can be enjoyed by Syracuse University students who come from all over the country.

Adam Gold, a member of the fair’s performing arts committee, said people from “all over” central New York come to the fair and “have a blast.”

The event also features a parade, six musical stages and activities for kids. The parade kicks off the fair, starting in Westcott from Euclid Avenue and down to Dell Street with music and dancing.

The musical stages supply a variety of entertainment for fairgoers, including dance, acoustic and kids stages. The center stage features musical artists that have personal connections with both the neighborhood and the fair. This year’s artists include funk-rock band Skunk City, well-known heavy rock group The Spring Street Family, jazz outfit Brownskin Band and reggae group Root Shock.

Jessica Brown and Bill Eppel of Root Shock said the Westcott neighborhood and fair have always been a home to them.

“We love the diversity of the neighborhood the energy and openness that it has, and that’s on display and celebrated at the fair,” Eppel said. “There’s great food, drink, local artists and business people, and as always with the Westcott Nation, a component of progressive activism.”

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