SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – South Orange Avenue was jammed on Sunday, but not with traffic.
Instead, the village’s main street was packed with tents and people for The South Orange Street Fair & Craft Show, organized by StreetFairs.org, which bills itself as the largest organizer of street fairs and juried craft shows in New Jersey.
As an enterprising photographer, I like to meet different people in different places. Chronicling life with a camera brings new adventures all the time. I made it to South Orange in good time from my home in Parsippany via Route 10 and South Orange Avenue about 2 p.m.
Judging at how long it took me to find a decent parking spot, I knew this street fair was well attended even before I got to downtown. As I approached the main venue, my photography instincts kicked in and I began shooting photos with my trusty Olympus SLR camera. The street was packed with people and vendors.
As I walked among the tables and mass of humanity, I noticed this huge doughnut with sprinkles coming my way. This doughnut had two arms and two legs and was causing quite a stir. There was no way I was going to let this doughnut get past me without getting a shot. I don't know where the doughnut came from or where it went, but the sight of it made me feel better and gave me a memorable photo op.
I continued meandering and noticed the usual suspects seen at street fairs, such as the guy dressed up as Uncle Sam on stilts and the hoard of home improvement companies trying to persuade you to hire them to renovate your home. But as always, I was on the lookout for something unusual or visually compelling.
Suddenly a figure dressed in black walked past me. After a double take, I realized I was looking at a local sensation who goes by the stage name Mikette. Mikette is one of the reasons I wanted to attend the South Orange Street Fair. Mikette, aka Dominique Wilson, has some “Bad” dance moves. That's bad as in very good, and the Newark native has patterned her steps and look after the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
Mikette bills herself as Newark’s First Female Michael Jackson Impersonator. According to her bio, she has been influenced by the “gloved one” since she was a little girl. And it shows, too, from her style of dress to her presentation of the moonwalk. Sadly, I missed her 1 p.m. performance, but I did manage to get a couple of shots of her before she departed.
The people I met made at the South Orange Street Fair & Craft Show made it quite a diverse affair. They came from different backgrounds but they all had at least one thing in common – a passion for their chosen vocation.
I photographed a display of flowers and plants. A woman at the table began talking with me. She was a friend of the florist, whose name was Lenny Zieff. He owns and operates Victor's Florist, which has been a fixture in South Orange since 1966.
She introduced me to Zieff, who gave me a condensed history of his establishment and how he got started in the florist business. He studied industrial design, but that didn't work out. He purchased Victor's Florist from its original owner. I asked him why he didn't change the name when he brought it.
"You don't change the name of an established business because the regular customers might stop coming,” he said. “I kept the original name, and old customers stayed and I acquired new customers that have stayed with me for years. We supply flower arrangements for funerals, proms, hospitals and parties and other events.”
When asked the secret to his florist shop's longevity, Zieff responded, "We always listen to our customers and try to accommodate them.”
I ran into South Orange resident Raoul Sanda Matundu. Matundu is a native of Ethiopia and is a graphic designer and photographer. He had a large display of photographs created over the years. His company is S.M.Arts Photography and the company’s web address is http://smartspics.com/S.M.Arts_Photography.html
I also had the pleasure of meeting the “Irish Baking Chick,” Alisia Nolan, who is from County Wicklow in Ireland. The Irish Baking Chick’s table had a display case full of homemade scones. Nolan learned how to bake from her mother. She works out of a commercial kitchen in Summit, N.J. The Irish Baking Chick’s web address is http://irishbakingchick.com/Contact.html