Organizers have pulled the plug on this year’s 18th Avenue Feast, quashing a decades-old tradition with a surprise Facebook post on Thursday that blamed the city for the festival’s demise.
“I am sad to inform you that there will be no Feast this year,” organizer Joe DeMarco wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to the annual street fair, which draws thousands of Brooklynites and hundreds of vendors to an eight-block stretch of 18th Avenue between 67th and 75th streets.
DeMarco claimed that the city dragged its feet in issuing the permits for the Feast — not giving organizers enough time to set everything up for its scheduled Aug. 25 kickoff.
“There is no time to get the 250 vendors [and] entertainers to make the feast happen and [we] are just fed up and tired,” DeMarco wrote. “Sadly, another Bensonhurst tradition dies along with the 13th Avenue Feast and the Harway Avenue Feast.”
But city officials are refuting DeMarco’s allegations, claiming that a conditional permit — which would have allowed organizers to go ahead with their plans — was sent to the organizers two weeks ago.
“We sent that letter on Aug. 5,” city spokeswoman Evelyn Erskine explained. “[The letter] allowed them to hold their festival.”
The conditional permit, however, was contingent on organizers giving the city several “documents” that included the festival’s non-profit status and liability insurance. It was unclear if those documents were produced before the Feast’s cancellation.
As of Friday evening, organizers hadn’t told the city that they weren’t holding the Feast, Erskine said.
Nor has anyone contacted the 62nd Precinct, which assigns more than 20 cops to the festival each day.
“There’s a campaign online to blame the city, but that’s not true,” an NYPD source told this paper. “The permit for the feast was absolutely filed — they’re just not doing it. But since they never told us that they’re cancelling it, we still have to plan as if its going to occur.”
The source said many wondered if the Feast was going to happen since organizers hadn’t put up the lights, banners and advertisements that are usually in place a week before the festival begins.
Attempts to contact DeMarco were unsuccessful by Friday evening.
The cancellation, first reported by the blog Bensonhurst Bean was announced just two days after the city confirmed that the festival would go on as planned for a full ten days. A typo on a city website had many believing that the Festival would go on, but only for one day.
Residents responded angrily to news that the festival had been shut down.
“All of a sudden it’s canceled?” asked a stunned Joe Maffei, the owner of Gino’s Focacceria, which relies on the yearly boost in business the festival brings. “This is tradition we’re talking about!”
—with Thomas Tracy