Record number of visitors flock to BayFest

Record number of visitors flock to BayFest
Bigger than ever: More than 100,000 people showed up on May 20 to see Sound Drive singer Victor Sabbagh and 24 other bands perform at the annual BayFest on Emmons Avenue.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

This year’s BayFest was bigger than ever.

More than 100,000 fans attended the Bay Improvement Group’s annual street festival on Emmons Avenue on May 20, according to the police and BIG president Steve Barrison — setting a new record for the neighborhood’s most popular outdoor event of the year.

“Emmons Avenue was a sea of people,” said Barrison. “To have so many come out and celebrate the community was a tremendous success.”

The day-long music fest between E. 27th Street and Ocean Avenue featured performances by the United States Merchant Marine Academy’s drill team, Jay & the Americans — who penned the smash hits “Come A Little Bit Closer” and “Cara Mia” — and 23 other bands.

Gymnasts from Aviator Sports Center gave a demonstration, and Borough President Markowitz, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D–Marine Park) and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) were also on hand, along with representatives of the Brooklyn Nets, who hawked merchandise for the borough’s new pro basketball team, which is moving into the Barclays Center this fall.

Residents said they went for the free live music, but stayed to rub elbows with neighbors and friends.

“The bands were great,” said Dennis Neil. “There was a lot of action out there.”

The festival’s 100,000-plus visitors broke its previous record high in 2002.

BayFest started as a two-hour guitar concert in 1992 that attracted just 50 people. Since then, the event has grown into an entertainment extravaganza that’s featured music stars such as Richie Ramone, the former drummer for the iconic punk band, Ticket2Ride, a well-known Beatles tribute band, and the Brighton Ballet Theater Company.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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