Flair at the Fair: Meet five Westcott Street originals

An assortment of performers dressed in eye-catching costumes mingled with fairgoers at the 23rd annual Westcott Street Cultural Fair.

 Artists, service organizations, trinkets for sale, cultural performances and food from local restaurants drew crowds to Sunday's Westcott Street Cultural Fair.

The Fair diverted traffic from Westcott Street for the festivities, which extended from Picasso’s Pastries and Café to Concord Place and overflowed down the side streets of Victoria Place, Harvard Place and Dell Street.

Despite gray skies and rain, the streets were bustling with families, couples walking their dogs, students and others celebrating the community.

 There, five expertly crafted and carefully assembled costumes shined.     

Jeff Pascarella, "Dra Gon"Jeff Pascarella, "Dra Gon"

Jeff Pascarella prefers to go by Dra Gon. A character he came up with inspired by the music and entertainment industry, Dra Gon represents power and strength.

“I try to dress up as him normally when I go out, but I always give him a different face, a different mask,” Pascarella said.

The character comes from hell, but is not evil; he takes away people’s pain. “If he was a rap artist, he would go by Dra,” Pascarella said.

Dra Gon has appeared at the New York State Fair, but it was his first time at the Westcott Fair.

Michael Miller, Bassest Street Hounds performerMichael Miller, Bassett Street Hounds performer

Michael Miller was covered head to toe with ripped strips of cloth. Bells covered both of his shins.

A member of the Bassett Street Hounds – a group that performs traditional English dances – since 1986, he was performing a dance called The Prisoner, a vigorous six-person jig performed to live flute music.

“I just showed up at a Basset Street Hounds event one day and they just grabbed me and told me to dance, and they had sticks,” Miller said.

The dancers carry and perform with dogwood sticks. The style of dance originates near the Welsh border counties of England, Miller said.

It was part of a winter visiting tradition where dancers would show up at the homes of rich people and wouldn’t leave until they were paid. In extreme cases, they would bring a plow and if the homeowners refused to pay, they would plow up their lawns, Miller said.


Sir Quala, The World's Tallest LeprechaunSir Quala, The World’s Tallest Leprechaun

Sir Quala, originally from Australia, lives in Dewitt and has been coming to the Westcott Fair for seven years. He dubs himself the world’s tallest leprechaun (he even has a button to prove it).

His signature leprechaun jacket was MIA since it was soiled from an unanticipated and unfortunate mishap that involved a cow giving birth and projectile feces at the New York State Fair.

Sir Quala danced in the Westcott Fair’s noon parade.  He also travels to New York, Chicago, and Boston to participate in Irish parades. Not even the rain could stop Sir Quala, who has danced his whole life.

“I’ve danced for the queen, I’ve cage danced in Czechoslovakia, I’m the only male go-go dancer, and I’m here every bloody year,” said Sir Quala.



Mitch Hendrix, Link from The Legend of ZeldaMitch Hendrix, The Legend of Zelda

Dressed in a red tunic that video-gamers will know all too well, Mitch Hendrix walked down Westcott Street as Link from The Legend of Zelda series.

Hendrix has attended the fair every year since he was a child. Hendrix wears a different costume each year.  Last year, he wore Link's green tunic.

“I love all the different people, the gathering, the culture, and seeing how the fair has grown every year,” Hendrix said.



Treva Purcell, Belly DancerTreva Purcell, Belly Dancer

Treva Purcell returns to the fair every year to belly dance. Her costume represented a fusion of different belly dancing traditions.

Purcell’s ensemble consisted of a headpiece, cloth tassels, a wraparound shawl and yoga pants.

“The tassels are often used to decorate cows and horses in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Northern India,” said Purcell. “We adopted it for our costumes.”

Fake coins were sewn onto her headpiece, which nomadic gypsies used to hold onto their money. Purcell also painted her face to appear as if she were tattooed.

“There is a lot of tattooing in the belly dancing tradition, but I actually styled my facial tattoos after the tradition of some Native American tribes who believe that facial tattoos allow you to be identified as you pass into the afterlife,” Purcell said.

All photos by Sydney Franklin.



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