MAPLEWOOD, NJ - This year's MayFest was a success.
Individuals from Maplewood, South Orange and other surrounding towns came out to enjoy the food, festivities and fun.
"It's for the kids to have fun," said Erin Frost of Newark who came to the street fair with her nieces and nephews. "They love the train, funnel cakes, obstacle course, bounce house and slide."
MayFest started out as a way to attract people to the Springfield Avenue Special Improvement District, which has been built up over the years into a town center. The festival has now been in town for more than 15 years and is the town's largest street fair, spanning along Springfield Avenue from Rutgers Street to Indiana Street. The festival, according to the many people who attended, continues to grow, bringing in more business to Springfield Avenue.
"The festival celebrates the work we've done on Springfield Avenue," said Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca. "People should shop Springfield Avenue."
More changes will be coming to Springfield Avenue.
The Springfield Avenue Special Improvement District, which is filled with shops and restaurants, will soon have a new park area with outdoor furniture, according to DeLuca.
"We just completed Yale Corner," DeLuca said about the vacant lot the township is leasing. "We making it into a park plaza where we'll have different events."
Examples of events, he said, could be food truck nights or outdoor concerts.
More than 150 businesses came to the 2019 MayFest, with 55 of the businesses being from Maplewood and South Orange, according to Julie Doran, executive director of the Springfield Avenue Partnership, the district management corporation for the Springfield Avenue Special Improvement District.
The street fair had DCH Millburn Audi as a major sponsor for the 10th year. The event featured performances by nine local bands, two dance studios on Springfield Avenue, and a performance by the Columbia High School Infinite Step Team.
"We want everyone in Maplewood and South Orange to know about the Infinite Step Team ... and we want to teach kids how to step," said Mya Roman, a junior at Columbia High School and member of the step team. "It requires a lot of work but it's a lot of fun. Anyone can step if they really try."
The Infinite Step Team came to the fair for the first time this year and also raised money at the street fair for a trip to Atlanta, Ga. to participate in a national competition at Moorehouse College. The team won first place in the Nationals Step League Competition earlier this spring and wants to compete in Atlanta this June and has a Go Fund Me page set up to raise money for the trip. The Go Fund Me page is https://www.gofundme.com/InfiniteStepTeam.
"We came out because we thought it was a great way to connect with the community," said Roman.
Other groups such as Maplewoodstock and the South Mountain YMCA also came out to tell the community about their upcoming events.
"We come [to the street fair] every year. Our big duck race happens within a week or two of the fair," said Tommy Donaldson, an employee with the South Mountain YMCA.
Every year the South Mountain YMCA holds the duck race, which raises money for the Y's annual campaign and other youth serving organizations.
"The first 12 ducks that come down the river win a prize that was donated by the YMCA or other businesses," Donaldson said.
The event organizers for Maplewoodstock sold t-shirts to raise money for this year's two-day festival, which is scheduled for July 13 and 14 and will feature 22 bands with three headliners.
Diana Galer, executive director of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce, said the street fair was also a way to get more businesses to join the chamber. The chamber recently started an "I'm In" campaign to encourage businesses to join.
Other local businesses such as Sadie's in South Orange and Blue Life Karate on Springfield Avenue enjoyed another year at the fair. Blue Life Karate received a plaque for being in business for 25 years. The karate business was located on Valley Street before moving to Springfield Avenue.
"It's my sincere honor to be able to serve the Maplewood and South Orange communities," said Shihan Durand Howard.