Despite two years’ absence, the Jamaica Plain World’s Fair will not celebrate its 20th appearance this year. It was rained out last year, and organizers were unable to secure a second permit from the city.
The cancellation of the World’s Fair “is about capacity,” Yi-Chin Chen, director of lifelong learning and economic development at Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF), one of the hosting organizations, said. “The economic climate is not great. Businesses are struggling. It’s hard to find sponsors.”
“We had meetings to analyze the future of the fair,” Juan Gonzales, from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), another host organization, said. “We don’t see how we can do it. The heightened risk is too much for the organizers to take this [year].”
Carlos Schillaci, of Hyde/Jackson Square Main Street (HJSMS), another host organization, added that “it’s definitely a possibility for next year.”
Instead of trying for a full fair, and risk operating in the red for another year, Chen said the host organizations—HSTF, JPNDC, HJSMS, and the Hyde/Jackson Business Association (HJBA)—“would support each other in other smaller events” like Summer Nights Out in Mozart Park.
“That’s one way we can still bring families and the neighbors together to bring people together and promote the district,” Chen said.
The hosts are branching out and trying to find other means to invigorate the neighborhood, Chen said.
“The original World’s Fair was meant to encourage people to come to JP for this community revival event,” she said. “But people know Hyde/Jackson Square, people know the Latin Quarter, people know JP now.”
A major recurring problem in the planning for the World’s Fair is the need for an extra permit that would allow for a rain date. Either the hosts pay for a second permit, or, as Chen put it, “you pray to the weather gods.”
“For the moment, we don’t have the conditions to do it. The expenses are really high, and with no rain date, it’s like having all the eggs in one basket,” Gonzales said.
“Last year we made all the effort, and we got rained out,” Gonzales added. “It was really frustrating. All our efforts were washed out.”
“The fair was ready to go. We were trying to get set up under the rain,” Schillaci said. “But it was raining too hard.”
Another hurdle in planning the World’s Fair was its proximity to the Wake Up the Earth Festival in May, which had many of the same tables and vendors, Chen said.