September brings not only a change in season, but also the beginning of a very busy time of year for the Merricks. School is back in session. High school sports are under way. And the Merrick Street Fair is finaly here.
The festival is held annually on Merrick Avenue this month. It is organized by the Merrick Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit organization of mostly volunteers looking to improve the community.
The fair kicked off on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 23 and Friday, Sept. 24, with the carnival rides. On Saturday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., certain parts of Merrick Avenue will be shut down and the rest of the festivities will start. This year's fair will span a 10-block radius, from the corner of Sunrise Highway and Merrick Avenue to Rattlesnake Jones Restaurant at Merrick and Loines avenues.
According to Randy Shotland, the chamber's vice president, 10,000 to 20,000 people are expected to attend the fair. "It is a family-oriented event that unites the entire community," Shotland said.
Ira Reiter, also a chamber vice president, revealed several of the fair's attractions, including a car show, which last year's fair did not have. Another new addition is a professional crafts and gifts exhibit, comprising 50 to 100 vendors.
Along with the rides and games, there will be live entertainment -- including an Elvis impersonator -- for attendees to enjoy as they meander on Merrick Avenue. There will be a petting zoo for animal lovers, and local businesses and restaurants will take part in the festivities to promote themselves.
"We use the fair as a main avenue to get our whole town together," Reiter said. "It also gives everybody an opportunity to learn about our local businesses."
Each year, the Chamber of Commerce extends an invite to the military to attend the event. Members of the Army, Coast Guard and Air Force will be on hand at this year's fair. Last year the Air Force brought a plane to the festival.
Also making appearances at the fair will be members of the Merrick Fire Department and the Bellmore-Merrick Emergency Medical Services unit.