The Hester Street Fair kicked off its ninth outdoor season on Saturday, with more than 20 food and crafty vendors setting up in the usual Seward Park spot under glorious, about-goddamn-time springtime skies. The scene, as always, was plenty festive but also pleasantly low key, because unlike Smorgasburg, which is great for different reasons, Hester Street never really gets uncomfortably mobbed. Even after all these years, this remains very much a neighborhood hang.
Different vendors will come and go all summer, rewarding repeat visits especially during themed fairs like the upcoming Girl Power (June 16), or Dog Day (May 12), or the Ice Cream Social (July 21). That said, two of the best food places will be holding it down every Saturday: Rostacy, serving up soul-satisfying Jamaican plates of oxtail or jerk chicken with rice and peas; and The Fried Kitchen, slinging surprisingly juicy fried bird breasts either straight-up with dipping sauce or in a potato-waffle sandwich (with dipping sauce). Local cafe l’estudio was on hand Saturday with piled-high tacos, Savory and Sweet had lots of cute cookie cups, and Jersey City baker Bang! brought mountains of truly great jumbo cookies.
In non-food vendor news (which really make up the bulk of the offerings here) there was the usual, appealing assortment of jewelry makers, clothing designers, and ceramicists (from, most notably, Greenpoint’s Punto Verde). The psychic Lisa D and a vintage zine salesman enhanced the LES feel of the fair. Cheap beer via Old Blue Last and music from JIL and Pretty Sick rounded out the springtime fun.
The Hester Street Fair will be open every Saturday through October 27 in Seward Park, at the eastern terminus of Hester Street across Essex Street.