Shops, student organizations and restaurants crowded Raymond Avenue last Saturday, September 21 as part of the 14th annual Arlington Street Fair.
The fair also coincided with Vassar’s Freshmen Families weekend, giving parents and new students a glimpse at the neighborhood of Arlington, which surrounds Vassar.
“The main purpose for this annual fair is to welcome new and current residents, merchants, students, and families to the Arlington neighborhood,” said Director of International Services Andrew Meade in the announcement of the fair on the college’s website several weeks ago. His announcement noted the food and entertainment that would populate Raymond Avenue, as well as what children’s activities the fair would offer.
Meade also serves as Special Events Chair for the Arlington Business Improvement District, which represents the suburban zones of Poughkeepsie and strives to beautify and revitalize the area.
“Each year we seek to expand the fair and celebrate the continuing revitalization efforts for the Arlington area of the Town of Poughkeepsie,” he commented.
On his aspirations for this year’s fair, Meade said, “During past fairs, we’ve seen thousands of people—families, students, and area residents—attend the fair and we hope that 5000 or more people may attend this year as well.”
Vassar was one of the sponsors of the annual fair, and the Vassar Student Association (VSA) took a role in planning the event.
“The VSA, specifically Activities, reached out to student organizations and student performers to fill entertainment for the day,” affirmed Vice President of Activities Stephanie Goldberg ’14. According to Goldberg, the VSA has been involved with past street fairs.
She continued, “The Activities Committee, including myself, were present throughout the day to be sure entertainment was running smoothly. As well, other VSA Executive members stopped by the Street Fair to check-in and assist.”
She emphasized the music and food which drew people from all around the Arlington area and noted the general happy, upbeat spirit of the day.
Several tables at the street fair were staffed by organizations from Vassar. One of them was WVKR, Vassar’s independent radio station. WVKR member Kathleen Konno ’15 tabled at the fair. “It wasn’t my first time there,” she said, “I’ve attended for the last two years and had a great time, but this was my first time tabling.”
She then spoke to her own experience tabling as part of a student organization. “I was tabling because my new campus job is working in the WVKR office, which has been an enjoyable and rewarding experience so far, and I’ve learned a lot about how independent radio works,” she said.
She continued, “I think the fair went really well. I always enjoy talking to people in the community and a lot of people seemed interested in learning more about different Vassar organizations.”
While some groups raised awareness by tabling, others interacted with fairgoers in a different way. Members of Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) handed out leaflets entitled “25 Reasons Why You Should Try Vegetarianism” to those at the fair.
“As a co-president of VARC, I’m always looking out for outreach opportunities that will help educate the Vassar campus about the treatment of farmed animals,” said Alessandra Seiter ’16 (Full disclosure: Seiter serves as the Online Editor for The Miscellany News). This was Seiter’s second year handing out flyerss for the group.
She continued, “The Arlington Street Fair serves as a perfect venue for outreach, since it attracts a large crowd of friendly, young folk.” On her experience at this year’s fair, Seiter commented, “It went super well! We handed out 1,200 leaflets in just two and a half hours.”
In addition to tabling and handing out leaflets, some Vassar organizations provided entertainment. Vassar’s circus troupe Barefoot Monkeys gave a performance at the fair. “It was amazing,” said member Michael Goldman ’16, “I felt so connected with the Poughkeepsie community.”
This was the first fair for even some upperclassmen at Vassar. “I didn’t go to the fair last year because my parents were visiting and it wasn’t really on our radar,” admitted Samantha Smith ’16. “I decided to check it out this year, and I’m glad I did. I was under the assumption it was just going to be just the food we have on Tasty Tuesday that are on Raymond Avenue anyway, but it wasn’t.”
She remarked, “There were a ton of food vendors, but I also saw crafts and shops I’ve never seen before. The Vassar organization tables were cool to stop by, too.”
Meade said of the fair, “It is about revitalization, and it is also about having lots of fun.”
Smith agreed with Meade. Smith said, “It’s a really great opportunity for Vassar students to see what Arlington has to offer. It’s really easy to fall into the ‘Vassar bubble’ mindset, and the street fair lets us escape it, at least a little bit for one afternoon.”
She went on, “We didn’t even have to go beyond Raymond Avenue to see what was out there in Poughkeepsie.”
Konno concurred, “This event is really great because it increases awareness of the campus to the community and vice versa. It was also awesome seeing both local families and families of Vassar students enjoying the event.”