Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00
Hometown enrichment — that’s what matters to the Mineola Chamber of Commerce and the Mineola Street Fair set to kick off Sunday, Sept. 8 will showcase local businesses. A rain date is set for Sept. 15.
Chamber Vice President Tony Lubrano and Steve Ford, the owner of Willis Hobbies and current fair co-chair, gave details on the upcoming event last week in an interview with the Mineola American.
The chamber’s task is to reel in businesses to participate, showcasing Mineola’s business district. The main focus, according to the duo, is to encourage people to “Shop Mineola.”
Ford and Lubrano are canvassing businesses in Mineola, highlighting the fair and stumping for participation. The chamber is sending out two-person teams to encourage local shops to participate.
“It costs them nothing to come down and set up a table,” said Lubrano.
The fairgrounds stretch from Main Street to First Street and Second Street on Mineola Boulevard to Willis Avenue and west to Harrison Avenue. For Lubrano, who owns Piccola
Bussola on Jericho Turnpike, it’s about exposure. Since local vendors can set up for free, getting the name out there for businesses is key.
“We did a really good job of getting the [businesses] who are on the footprint of the fair to participate in some degree last year,” Lubrano said. “I think [the goal for] this and future fairs is to convince people who own businesses in Mineola who are not on the footprint to come in and participate.”
The close-knit feeling of local shopping is what Ford and Lubrano thrive on. “I wasn’t worried about making money at the fair. It’s getting out there and meeting people,” said
Lubrano. They believe a customer gets more out of a local establishment, rather than a big-box store or shopping mall mainstay.
“When you shop local, you’re dealing with the owner,” said Ford. “When you go to a local business, you deal with the person that lives and breathes the business; that’s special. In the mall, you deal with a clerk.”
Lubrano lives in Plainview, but he’ll be the first to tell you that he thrives on the hometown feel of Mineola. He put it to work recently for a very close friend.
“Two weeks ago my brother got married and celebrated at my restaurant and he and his wife didn’t know anyone around here,” he said. “So he asked who should he use for a florist. I said ‘talk to Howard at Mineola Florist.’ We needed invitations, I said ‘I’ll call Paula at You’re Invited To Celebrate.’ It’s different than going through the web or phone book. That hometown feel exists here more than other villages.”
The main stage will be designated for the opening ceremonies, singing and performance groups and located at First Street and Mineola Boulevard. The second stage will be stand at Main Street and Second Street and used for winners of the open talent show auditions held leading up to the fair.
Fairs have been held in the downtown area in previous years at Main and Second Street. The concept is not totally brand new, but it will be the third time it has expanded to
Mineola Boulevard, the essential gateway into the village. Previously, the fair had been run out of Memorial Park.
“The biggest percent of the vendors [in the park] were mostly not from Mineola,” Ford said. “Now with the street fair, it’s almost 80 or 90 percent local businesses.”
The fair sported 124 vendors last year, including outside entities. Ford and Lubrano are hoping to pack it tighter this year.
“It was much better than prior years,” said Ford. “I think going forward, we hope to fill it to capacity.”
Entertainment coordinators managed to obtain hometown talent for last year’s fair, including Mineola High School alumna Michelle Ferreira, an indie-pop singer. The lifelong resident recently graduated from Pace University. She released her first album in 2011.
“When [the fair] was in the park, it was in May and three quarters of the entertainment was school groups,” said Lubrano. “Now we’re doing it in September and we didn’t think about this when we did it, kids are just starting school and aren’t ready. Now, we have to get a lot more entertainment outside and local.”