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Ridgites: Third Avenue fair better than Atlantic Antic

Feeling chipper: Ashlie Jefferson of Bay Ridge tries some fish and chips outside of Longbow Pub at the Third Avenue Festival on Sept. 30.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Crowds crammed Third Avenue on Sept. 30 for what organizers proudly declared the biggest — and best — street fair in the borough.

Despite competition with the Atlantic Antic in Downtown, thousands of people packed Bay Ridge’s largest commercial thoroughfare for a day of food and fun. There were rides for the kids, while neighborhood politicians schmoozed with constituents, and community non-profits raised funds and awareness for their causes.

Third Avenue Merchants president Robert Howe was quick to take up for his corridor’s party, which stretched from 69th Street all the way down to 93rd Street from noon until 6 pm.

“They kept saying on the radio this morning that Atlantic Antic is the biggest street fair in Brooklyn. But it’s nowhere near as long as this,” the attorney and community leader said.

Howe also said the Third Avenue Festival deserves points for authenticity.

“There’s people from a lot of different neighboods here, and everyone here is a real Brooklynite, not a wannabe Brooklynite,” said Howe, laughing.

The business group president also pointed out that the Bay Ridge fair is unique because it focuses on the businesses that call the avenue home.

“In contrast to other festivals, where they’re run by an outside group, we are a merchant-driven festival,” Howe said, noting that there were only non-native vendors where store owners had decided not to put out a stand.

But there were still plenty of food trucks lining the street, thanks to organizer Chip “Festival Guy” Cafiero.

Cafiero made sure there were some Middle Eastern cuisine spots, a “Cheese Munchies” wagon selling dairy-slathered sandwiches and tacos, and a soda station designed to look like a firehouse, where passersby could fill up on their favorite sugary carbonated drinks (just don’t mention it to Mayor Bloomberg).

Cafiero also boasted of the Third Avenue event’s success.

“The vendors that I have, they come back every year, and they tell me this is the best festival,” Cafiero said, adding that he believed attendance at the 2012 fair ranked in the top 10 of its 39-year run. “It was one of the best ever.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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