The highly anticipated Bellmore Street Festival will not take place this year out of concerns for public health and safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Chamber of Commerce of the Bellmores, which hosts the event every September, posted a note on its website to announce that it would forego the festival until 2021.
“We, the Chamber, feel it is in the best interest of everyone’s general health that we forego this event for the year,” the note reads. “If things continue to improve and we are allowed to permit, we will try to put a vendor event together showcasing our members. No attractions or carnival, but a shopper’s paradise.”
The announcement follows a similar decision from the Merrick Chamber of Commerce, who last month decided that they, too, would cancel their annual Fall Festival because of Covid-19. Both street fairs attract thousands of guests to hundreds of booths manned by local business owners, and while many will miss out on the carnival rides and cotton candy, businesses and service organizations will lose major opportunities to raise money for their communities.
“It’s affecting everybody,” said Bellmore Chamber President Jim Spohrer. “We still want to do our Christmas tree and menorah lighting, but we’ll have to try it with masks and social distancing.”
Bellmore Lions President Camille Raia said the street festival allowed community members to “gather for the benefit of Bellmore.” “It was a day to be out with your fellow neighbors,” she said. “Whether you were working it or visiting it, everyone looked forward to it.”
While the Lions have been busy providing groceries to residents in need and distributing meals to school students since the pandemic began, the loss of the street festival will impact the group financially, Raia said.
“We’re not having any other major fundraisers, but our members are still collecting food for the Community Cupboard,” she added. “We’re going to do whatever we can do for the community.”
One such effort is the Lions’ weekly Flea Market, which invites vendors from all over Long Island to share their wares with patrons. Raia emphasized that masks are required, socially distancing is encouraged and vendor booths are spaced out six feet apart. The market is located at the intersection of Sunrise Highway and Bellmore Avenue in Bellmore. For vendor information, hours and more, call (516) 783-1471.
The Bellmore Kiwanis has also obtained a permit from the Town of Hempstead to run a flea market (see box), which will serve as its fundraiser for the rest of this year, according to President Andrew Meyerowitz.
“This will give the flea market vendors who have lost the time during the pandemic an opportunity to sell their goods and do it safely,” he said, “and continue the Kiwanis’s mission of serving the children of our community.”
Like the Lions, the Kiwanis Club uses the Bellmore Street Festival as an avenue for community outreach. “The street fair to the Kiwanis has become more of a way to get our faces out to the public,” Meyerowitz said, “to show people that we’re in the neighborhood and here to help people.”
Both Raia and Meyerowitz supported the chamber’s decision to cancel this year’s festival, and the organization promised that next year’s event would be “bigger and better than ever.”
The 2021 Bellmore Street Festival will be held on Sept. 25 and 26, with the carnival starting on Sept. 23. Next year’s rain dates are Oct. 23 and 24, with the carnival starting on Oct. 21. Visit the chamber’s website at www.bellmorechamber.com for news and updates.