23rd Westcott Street Cultural Fair celebrates historic neighborhood

A lack of sunshine couldn't dampen the storied Westcott neighborhood's unique offering of food, art and culture.

For Westcott residents and neighbors, overcast skies and a lack of sunshine couldn’t put a damper on the 23rd iteration of the Westcott Street Cultural Fair.  Despite the miserable weather, the people, food and vibrant culture of the historic Westcott neighborhood seemed to shine even brighter.

“What makes Westcott unique is the mix of different people that we have here. The energy and the activism of the neighborhood that you won’t see anywhere else,” said Marcellus resident Sondra Bromka.

Photo: Love Lee
The cultural fair encouraged creative participation with activities such as this open figure drawing station.

An entirely volunteer-driven effort organized by the Westcott Area Cultural Coalition (WACC), the annual fair has been a staple of the Westcott neighborhood for 23 years, highlighting the area’s unique culture and energy. 120 booths consisting of different vendors, artists, performers and community activists lined three whole blocks of Westcott Street.

Sharon Sherman, one of 30 all-year organizers for the fair, said the event’s popularity has grown year after year.

“We had to close applications for booths early because we had so many applicants. It shows how important the fair is to the community,” Sherman said. “This was great to see, and it’s great to see everyone out here today.”

Residents relished the opportunity to celebrate Westcott's vibrant culture while newcomers enjoyed learning about the historic neighborhood's background.

“It seems a lot more inclusive than I thought it was going to be,” said Syracuse newcomer Caroline Wilkinson. “A lot of crafts that I didn’t really know existed and it’s an urban area, but there’s so much to do in terms of arts and culture that I didn’t really know before.”

“My favorite part is just all the people and all the cultural things that are going on,” said Westcott’s Tonya Younis. “It’s awesome. It’s a great blend of people.”

The festival kicked off with a parade from the Westcott Community Center at noon, which featured children from area schools, political hopefuls, puppeteers and various dance troupes.

140 volunteers helped run and organize events for the fair, with over 100 Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF students. These volunteers set up six different stages for live performances, from acoustic concerts, indie rock, choreographed dance routines and even a stage devoted entirely to belly dancing. One man, dressed in a bright green trouser outfit, even wiggled his hips and tapped his feet to the pavement in a classical Irish step dance.

On the main stage, the Geneva area band Call Security jammed to its own brand of alternative rock in front of a festive crowd that filled Dorian’s entire parking lot. The band’s setlist consisted of original tracks, including Small Talk and Hometown Hair, which were reminiscent of bands such as The Killers and Neon Trees.

Call Security ended their performance with a fan favorite classic, "Twist and Shout," that had the crowd, young and old alike, twisting their hips and channeling their inner Ferris Bueller.

“It’s the very best neighborhood in Syracuse. It’s the most happening place,” Bromka said.

Even if you missed the fair, Sherman said there are more events planned for the Westcott neighborhood this year. In November, the WACC will host the fourth annual Westcott Winter Weekend Art & Music Festival around Thanksgiving weekend Sherman said.

Fashion at the Westcott Culutral Fair

Flair at the Fair: See five fairgoers and their original costumes.



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