This past Saturday I attended the Connecticut Street Fair for the first time since it was first established a decade ago. It was while attending The Bash Saturday night that I overheard someone talking about the event, so I decided to bike over the following day. I know that we often talk about all of the major events due to their magnitude and their ability to draw large crowds, but I often find that it is the quaint neighborhood festivals that make me feel right at home.
While enjoying some live music I spoke to Linda Chiarenza, Executive Director of West Side Neighborhood Housing Services who told me, “We really had a great day with a good turn out of our neighbors. This kind of event is designed to make people aware of what West Side (a NeighborWorks (R) charter member) and Black Rock Riverside Neighborhood Housing Services have to offer. We want to encourage them to feel comfortable and just stop in and chat. We want everyone, no matter what their economic status is, to consider us a “first stop shop” for any housing needs. We offer homebuyer education, credit counseling, closing cost loans, rehabilitation loans and unfortunately if needed, we can counsel and give free attorney representation if needed. Our primary funders are NeighborWorks (R) America, NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and the City of Buffalo.”
It turns out that what I had assumed was purely a West Side fair, was also designed as a way to inform residents about the different programs offered by the WSNHS. What struck me the most was my recollection that this neighborhood once hosted the Italian Festival before it moved to Hertel. Over the years we have seen Connecticut Street come back out of its shell, as retail and residential have rebounded thanks to a number of West Side activists, organizations and investors.
Stay tuned for some more Connecticut Street news this week, and don’t forget to support the smaller festivals that spring up in your own neighborhood… or start one yourself if there’s not one already.