Festival fun returns to Fifth Avenue for its 21st year

Everyone loves a festival, especially Bay Ridgeites. The 21st Annual Fifth Avenue Festival will be held on Sunday, June 1. The family-friendly event, which runs from 12 to 6 p.m., will start on 69th Street and end at 85th Street. The fun-filled day will include activities for attendees of all ages, from a karaoke competition held at popular local watering hole Bean Post Pub, 7525 Fifth Avenue, to wine tasting at Long’s Wines & Liquors, 7917 Fifth Avenue.

President of the Fifth Avenue Business District (BID) Jim Clark described how the festival helps people discover the advantages Bay Ridge offers all year round. “There’s excitement. It brings people to community to see what Bay Ridge is all about. They’re able see the different stores and everything else we have to offer. So it promotes the avenue,” he said. “There’s a pizzeria eating contest, face painting and shopping.”

Among the attractions, the more popular ones typically cater to the youngsters. “The rides for the children attract biggest crowd,” said Clark. The rides will be located on 69th Street, along with vintage cars that will be on display.

Clark also said the variety of food offered– including sausage and peppers, ice cream, corn on a cob and zeppole, just for starters — is a staple of the festival.

Attendance for the event has typically been impressive. “It’s dependent on weather. If it’s clear and sunny during the day, it’s great,” he said.

Music fans will also be able to enjoy the day with some live performances. “We have about four or five different bands playing in different spots and we hope for a good day,” noted Clark. Those bands include Radio Daze, Head N South and Prodigal Child — which will perform at restaurant Mussels and More, 8001 Fifth Avenue. Hollaback will perform at Full Moon Saloon, 8309 Fifth Avenue.

One of the more popular events is the traditional Pizza Eating Contest, held at Rocco’s Pizzeria, 7818 Fifth Avenue. Now celebrating its 10th year, it will commence at 3 p.m.

“I would say the festival is what keeps the avenue strong,” said Chip Cafiero, the event’s organizer. “It has a small town flavor where everyone knows each other. Entertainment keeps everyone there and they all get to see the stores. It’s big help to them. Not everyone goes up to Fifth Avenue all the time to see what’s going on.”

The festival gets bigger every year, and the trend is expected to continue for years to come. “It’s a tradition and keeps the community strong,” said Cafiero.

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