Summer came to a close last weekend with the autumn equinox. Sutphin Boulevard was eager to celebrate the promise of cooler weather with its first annual Harvest Festival on September 23rd, hosted by Dr. Bob Lee of WBLS Radio. Scores of people from all walks of life, both young and old, turned out for food, entertainment and great music. Small business owners had the opportunity to set up their tables along the street between Hillside and Jamaica Avenue, joined by organizations supporting youth mentoring, public health, and senior services. Spirits were high, as this Saturday was blessed with cloudless, sunny weather.
On the main stage, Dr. Bob Lee announced the R&B group of 40 years, The Right Direction, who performed their renditions of classic songs like “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, setting an energetic tone for the entirety of the festival. Later in the day, Ashley Keiko Chambers took the stage and stopped attendees in their tracks—captivating all with her talents on the saxophone. Christian Hip-Hop artist Young Lyfe had the stage in the afternoon. With expert flow, he wove together powerful rhymes about rising above struggle and finding faith. His passion and positivity made the perfect finale for the festival’s music performances.
The food at the Harvest Festival catered to a diverse pallet. Vendors kept busy feeding a hungry crowd that couldn’t get enough of the cooking. There were lines for jerk chicken from Cecilia’s Kitchen, made by original home recipe. Entice, a family-operated restaurant on Jamaica Avenue, offered empanadas and Jerk Mac & Cheese for those who like it spicy. When the afternoon temperature reached its hottest, many guests opted for a Pina Colada or water from a freshly-cut coconut that they could sip through a straw. Every vendor provided food that satisfied both the stomach and the soul.
Tables lined along the street featured uniquely-handmade accessories, home goods, and clothing. The festival market gave guests an opportunity to get great deals on wool hats and sweaters in preparation for the anticipated Fall season drop in temperatures, as well as a chance to stock up on holiday gifts.
This was a great place for families to spend quality time together on a beautiful day. Children played games and slid down inflatable-bounce slides; hardly a moment passed during the festival without hearing the sound of laughter. The Grace Episcopal Church also set up a booth representing the Interfaith Initiative which promotes wellness and health in minority communities. The Initiative provides information on making wise food choices and keeping mental health in balance.
When the sun began to set, the first Harvest Festival on Sutphin Boulevard had to pack up. The results are in, and the event was a clear-cut success. Those who were fortunate enough to catch the festival agreed that they would come back again next year. Sutphin Boulevard is home to a rich diversity which, amongst the high-rise buildings shooting up throughout the borough, is getting much harder to find. It was incredible to have an event where people of all cultures and orientations can come together in the community to plant smiles, grow laughter and harvest love on Sutphin.