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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Latin American Fiesta could become 'THE' Plainfield event

Costumed dancer poses with young attendee.

Plainfield's first Central American Independence Day Fiesta, thronged with attendees both Saturday and Sunday seems a smashing success, and bids fair to become 'THE' default Plainfield event going forward.

For decades, Plainfield's main visitor attractions have been the July 4th Parade and the Outdoor Festival of Art.

At one time, the July 4th Parade was known as the 'Central Jersey' parade and was orchestrated by a committee including representatives from surrounding towns and actually enshrined in Plainfield's charter (3:14, Independence Day Committee).

Readers will be familiar with Plainfield Today's chronicling of the steady decline of the parade as the City forges ahead alone, without participation by other communities, and shrinks the promotion, publicity and participation in the parade until is has become a mere shadow of its glory days. Unless the Robinson-Briggs administration gets a handle on it, the July 4 Parade seems destined to dwindle into one more of the Queen City's glories celebrated in memory but not present reality.

The Outdoor Festival of Art was the other summer highlight, a juried art show with professional and amateur artists and photographers that drew thousands of attendees (and artists) from the TRI-STATE area. (The first artist I met upon moving here from Brooklyn 25 years ago was none other than A BROOKLYN ARTIST, exhibiting in Plainfield!)

Alas, as I reported earlier this month (see here), neither event is faring well under Robinson-Briggs' stewardship -- this year, there wasn't even a food vendor at the Art Festival.

Organized with a real entrepreneurial flair with the lead taken by the owner of the Los Faraones club, the
Central American Independence Day Fiesta was thoughtfully laid out, chock full of vendors -- food and merchandise -- and featured continuous entertainment both days.

It was also a very family-friendly event. Children of all sizes and ages were prominent and the vendors had plenty of merchandise they found irresistible -- from bubble-blowing 'guns' to glow-in-the-dark swords, to colorful tiaras sprouting twinkling fiber optic bristles -- which parted many a parent from their cash.

The food was varied, delicious and uncomplicated -- as street food should be. And at street food prices -- where else would you normally spend $5 for a small paper sack containing six churros? -- the vendors did very well and will surely want to come back.

One carp: The Robinson-Briggs administration and Assemblyman Green missed a great opportunity by not having the Census 2010 crew on hand to explain the importance of being counted in the upcoming Census. As the fastest-growing and traditionally undercounted segment of Plainfield's population, full participation would guarantee a successful Census. Another missed opportunity.

Could the Fiesta be improved?

I think so.

A very popular part of the SID celebration held a weekend ago (see story here) were the brightly-costumed dance troupes who performed in the street, in the midst of the attendees, to the delight of all. I think such a cultural element would perfectly complement the music, food and merchandise, strengthening what is already a very strong foundation.

Lastly, one of the strengths of the Outdoor Festival of Art always was that the triangle of grassy area in Library Park nearest 9th Street was reserved for Plainfield's cultural and nonprofit organizations to display their programs and solicit volunteers and participants. It was the the one-stop-shop for all sorts of activities from the Plainfield Symphony to the Friends of the Library, from the League of Women Voters to Habitat for Humanity, a true marketplace of community activities.

Adding something like this to the
Central American Independence Day Fiesta would have a two-pronged benefit: first, organizations could get the word out to a large audience, and second, Plainfield organizations would learn how to adapt to Plainfield's newest -- and growing -- population.

I am eagerly looking forward to next year's Fiesta.

-- Dan Damon

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Rob said...

Organizing, enhancing, adding to the quality and improving ANYTHING in Plainfield is NOT Mayor Jerry's or his assistant Sharon's talent to be sure. Sad but true. We will have 4 more years of Mayor Jerry and Assistant Mayor Sharon and you watch them attempt to choke the life and vitality out of that festival as well. The saddest thing is that Mayor Jerry and Assistant Mayor Sharon HAVE TO BE ABLE TO SEE what the common person can. They simply don't care, and the sheep in Plainfield will let them stick it to the city for 4 more years. Sad...truly sad.

active citizen said...

The previous commenter is wrong when it comes to four more years of Jerry and Sharon. They are like a Punch and Judy puppet show, but the citizens of Plainfield are the ones being beaten up.

Everyone needs to get out and get rid of these clowns and give someone else a change. They can't screw up things any worse than Mayor Jerry and Assistant Mayor Sharon.

Yep I Said It! said...

Plainfielders!!! It's not over yet. There are choices:

-Vote for Sharon and Jerry and have four more years of Plainfield destruction and corruption


-Start something new in Plainfield and Vote Pivnichny -the Republican Candidate. He seems like a nice, intelligent person.(However -I need to find out his views on Obama's Healthcare Plan)


- A well constructed and followed WRITE-IN. Not Mickey Mouse but ADRIAN O. MAPP.

Perhaps Plainfielders need to put aside the PARTY and vote for the PERSON.