April 12-16, 2023

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Street Fairs, the Tradition Continues

Last year, as we began planning the North Carolina Azalea Festival, we knew the beloved Street Fair would be an event that we would continue to host. Who doesn’t love a good street fair, right? Hearing and seeing the sights and sounds, walking through the streets exploring the vendors booths, watching the entertainers, and seeing all the food choices is part of the beauty of the Festival. Heck, the smell of the funnel cakes alone will drive you to tear through a crowd and storm a food truck.

But all this planning got us wondering, who came up with the idea of a Street Fair? Think about it. Someone or a group of people had to say “let’s block off the streets and invite merchants and food vendors to take over our street space. There they can sell their goods and delicious food. Let’s also invite entertainers who can attract the crowds and let’s call this event a Street Fair.”

So we did some digging and found…believe it or not, historical street fairs were happening in the Eastern Mediterranean before the birth of Christ according https://www.fairsandexpos.com/History-of-Fairs. Apparently, fairs were a mixture of commerce, trade, festivals, religious feasts and holy days.

But how did the tradition of a street fair make it to America? Most believe that during the eighteenth century, western Europeans arrived at the colonial docks of Boston with a mission to sell their goods. They began the selling process right there in the streets by the docks. This was the earliest form of what we now know as a street fair.

Another tradition that holds firm from bygone street fairs and our modern day street fair is the location of the fairs. We learned that the eastern Mediterranean street fairs were held in the center of large thriving cities like Nineveh, Athens, Rome and Mecca. The merchants who sold at the fairs were successful, but the city benefited as well. The event brought visitors from far outlining cities which in turn brought commerce to the host city. It was a win-win for everyone.

Today, here in Wilmington the street fair tradition continues. We have merchants, food vendors and entertainers from near and far who come into our thriving city to take part in our Azalea Festival Street Fair. We invite you to be a part of our continuing tradition. Come enjoy the booths that line our streets with handmade goods, festive foods and live entertainment. Mingle with our locals and meet new friends. Most of all, relax and take in the Festival and our beautiful city just like our ancestors did before us. Mark you Google calendar now and see ya in the street!

For all the details about the North Carolina Azalea Festival DGX Street Fair, visit https://ncazaleafestival.org/events/category/series/dgx-waterfront-street-fair/