The JP World’s Fair—which had taken place every year from 1989 to 2008—is turning 30 this year, and will be reimagined with a new version of the fair after a ten year hiatus. The fair began in 1989 as a sidewalk sale, then moved to Hyde/Jackson Square as a yearly multicultural celebration with food, performers, rides, activities and games made possible by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF), JP Center South, Hyde/Jackson Square Main Street, and Bella Luna restaurant.
In 2009, the fair was rained out, and since then, it has not happened again. Now, a group of dedicated volunteers has decided to bring the fair back under a new name—the Latin Quarter World’s Fair. Kelly Ransom, a volunteer with the Latin Quarter World’s Fair Planning Committee, was born and raised in Jamaica Plain and recalls going to the fair as a child. She has been instrumental in bringing the fair back to life with a new set of goals.
“Over the past couple of years, the Latin Quarter has become a cultural district,” she said at a community input meeting on July 22. “A lot of people mentioned missing the World’s Fair,” as it “brought people from outside JP into this neighborhood,” Ransom said. She added that the Planning Committee has some people who remember going to the fair as kids who grew up in the Latin Quarter.
The Latin Quarter World’s Fair will be on Sunday, September 15, which is around the time when the original fair took place, and is also the kickoff to National Latinx Heritage Month, so “it’s a great way to recognize that,” she said.
The fair, which will not be quite as expansive as it had once been, will not shut down Centre St,, but it will close off Creighton St. to Bynner St. and utilize the Blessed Sacrament campus, Ransom said. In the future, they hope to restore it to its original size.
The Planning Committee is working closely with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) on this endeavor. The core goal and initiatives set by the Planning Committee include paying all participating artists and performers appropriately, as well as providing paid positions ($20/hour) for local youth to help out with activities at the event. Though it won’t happen this year, the Planning Committee hopes to offer training for youth in activities such as face painting and balloon twisting so they can start their own businesses and be hired at other events.
Another feature of this year’s fair is a free bilingual training for any JP-based food business that would like to learn about the process for applying for a temporary food license in Boston. “We want to invite all the restaurants in Latin Quarter and JP to sell food outside,” Ransom said. “If they participate in the training, we will cover their food license, which is $75.”
A free 6 foot table space will be provided for JP small businesses or artists, and non-JP vendors will be charged $150 for a table, Ransom said, and all money goes directly to the fair. “We have 50 vending spaces for vendors,” she said, and 30 of them will be put aside on a first-come, first-serve basis for JP businesses. There are eight spaces for food vendors. “We definitely want a mix of food there,” Ransom said. It was discussed that the Committee might ask original food vendors if they’d like to come back to the fair to bring an air of nostalgia to the event.
“We’re going to make sure this event is for the community, by the community,” she said, so several community input meetings have been held to solicit information about what the community might like to see at the fair regarding food, performances, and activities.
So far, there will be a video project conducted at the fair where fairgoers will be interviewed in a 10×10 set about what they remember about the fair, if it’s their first time, etc. and the footage will be turned into a video to promote next year’s fair, Ransom said. So far, two bands have also been booked. The final activities/rides/games, as well as the rest of the vendors, have yet to be finalized. The Planning Committee is currently looking for more performing groups, volunteers, kids to run the activities, food vendors, and small business vendors, as well as sponsors and donors. Any inquiries should be directed to [email protected] The fair also has a website, latinquarterworldsfair.com, as well as Instagram and Facebook pages.