Special to the Gazzette
On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, the Latin Quarter World’s Fair (LQWF) Committee officially announced that the Latin Quarter World’s Fair will take place on Sunday, September 15, in Boston’s Latin Quarter Cultural District in the Hyde/Jackson Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. The multicultural celebration is being reimagined to kick-off National Latinx Heritage Month, recognize the neighborhood’s recent designation as a Cultural District by both the Mass Cultural Council & The City of Boston, and to honor what would be the 30th anniversary of the Jamaica Plain World’s Fair which came to a halt in 2008.
The Latin Quarter World’s Fair builds off the 20-year history of the JP World’s Fair, a street festival organized by local groups and residents that was last held in 2009. At its peak, the JP World’s Fair featured more than 20 musical performers, 100 arts & crafts vendors and informational booths, and drew crowds of more than 10,000 to the streets of Hyde-Jackson Square.
Over the years, many residents and merchants have hoped for a return of a multicultural street festival to Hyde-Jackson Square and with the energy and activity surrounding Hyde/Jackson Square’s formal designation as the Boston Latin Quarter Cultural District, thanks to the advocacy efforts of the families & youth from Hyde Square Task Force, the time has now come.
The new Latin Quarter World’s Fair will be a true community festival celebrating the cultural traditions of the neighborhood and organized by local residents and merchants. There will be open community meetings and planning sessions in the lead up to the LQWF where residents can play a role in creating an event that represents the spirit of past events while making sure that current residents and merchants shape the LQWF. In this way, the Fair will truly belong to the community!
After an outpouring of support from the community that wishes to see the event return, a committee was formed in Fall 2018 to conceptualize and execute the event. Currently, the committee is volunteer driven and comprised of representatives from Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (Official 2019 Fiscal Sponsor), Hyde Square Task Force (Boston’s Latin Quarter cultural district is managed by Hyde Square Task Force), Hyde Jackson Square Main Street, The Latin Quarter Cultural District Advisory Committee, Ransom Productions, Bella Luna Restaurant & Milky Way Lounge, Hoopla Productions (JP Porchfest producers), Kate Lynn Huffman (Arts Administrator), Coastal Productions, La Gringa Loca Productions, Ultra Beauty Salon, Convite Internacional Banilejo, as well as previous JP World’s Fair planner, Harry Smith and a number of residents & community members.
Carol Downs, LQWF Committee member and owner of Bella Luna Restaurant & Milky Way Lounge, notes “Street festivals have a special energy because it is magical and invigorating to walk down a street that is normally reserved for cars. People in the neighborhood are literally and figuratively freed from normal boundaries and it just opens up to being together in a special way.”
“The Latin Quarter Cultural District’s new take on the JP World’s Fair will focus on celebrating the neighborhoods long, rich history of Afro-Latin art, culture, food, and music.” Says LQWF Committee member and former resident, Cisnell Baez. She mentions, “By creating spaces and events that are led by the community who lived, work, and own businesses there, we are empowering them to make decisions about their neighborhood.”
The Latin Quarter World’s Fair (LQWF) Committee is looking forward to a busy summer of fundraising, planning, and reaching out to the community for their input on the event. In addition to a GoFundMe (www.gofundme.com/LatinQuarterWorldsFair2019 ) that was recently launched, the Committee is offering a robust selection of sponsorship opportunities (more information available at www.latinquarterworldsfair.com), and planning community fundraising events at various venues throughout Jamaica Plain.