Organizers of the event, to be held from 5th to Cottage streets, seek to feature the many downtown businesses that newcomers to the city, as well as longtime residents, can patronize for their many shopping needs, according to Dee Dee Bottino, festival spokeswoman.
“The merchants in the past did an Oktoberfest, which was geared more toward beer and (German) food; more of the October traditional festival,” Bottino said. “A lot of the businesses are not looking for the revelry like with the St. Patrick's Day Parade.”
This year’s event, sponsored by those same Bergen Point businesses and handpicked one-day vendors, is designed to show that downtown is where it’s at for so many families’ every day needs.
“There’s been a lot of development in Bayonne, bringing in a lot out-of-towners. A lot of New Yorkers,” Bottino said. “They want people to know there are numerous restaurants, a beauty salon, a barber shop, a fitness/sports center, and two fitness areas that also do personal training.”
Bottino touts well-regarded Mona Lisa and Amici’s Italian restaurants and Naples pizzeria as places to stop and grab a bite.
“Not only are they places to eat,” Bottino said, restaurants such as Mona Lisa and Amici’s “also do catering.”
A dance studio, Realtor, and a deli renowned for its homemade potato salad are other businesses that come to mind in Bergen Point.
“These are Bayonne people, who live in Bayonne and run their businesses here. They put a lot of love and money into their businesses there,” Bottino said. “It’s really a one-stop shopping area and that’s what they want the people to know.”
Festival vendors were carefully chosen.
“We have specialty vendors, a jewelry vendor, and ones selling pocketbooks and children’s clothing,” Bottino said.
After local vendors came up with the idea and began to refine the details, the group approached the city and enlisted the help of First Ward Councilman Thomas Cotter, according to Bottino.
“He has been full force in putting this together for them,” Bottino said.
Bottino, who works in the Urban Enterprise Zone office, said, “That is what UEZ is about, promoting and helping businesses,” she said. “The UEZ promotes all of Broadway. When businesses feel they need a little help, we come in.”
Bottino said that an event like the Bergen Point Fall Festival can sometimes result in businesses filling a void.
“No one wants to see vacancies. Sometimes vendors do open when they see a need in the community,” she said. “This is a golden opportunity for them to come down and maybe start a business in the area.”
Music, entertainment, food, inflatable rides, balloon sculpture, temporary tattoos, sand art, face painting, and art displays will all be part of the festivities. There will also be cartoon characters with whom kids can get their pictures taken.
There will even be a costume contest for dogs, with a prize for first, second, and third place.
“Bring your pooch in their best outfit,” Bottino said. “It’ll be a fun day for the whole family.”
Something for all
“There's plenty for everyone, whether you are single or whether you have children,” Bottino said. “We're really trying to do something for the whole community. And there’s the shopping opportunities.”
Virtually all stakeholders involved are chipping in to make the event a success. Vendors are paying a fee, merchants are paying a fee, and there is the assistance from the UEZ.
Come on down
If the Fall Festival is a success, the merchants want to hold it annually. They are excited about it and urge residents to participate.
“Come and join us for a community celebration,” Bottino said.
For more information, call the Bayonne Urban Enterprise Zone Office at (201) 858-6357.E-mail email@example.com.