More than one hundred vendors lined the streets of Westcott Saturday. Many of the businesses are experienced entrepreneurs. However, for one Syracuse University student, the Cultural Fair was a chance to debut his new business.
“I already knew about Westcott. I knew about the whole atmosphere, the eclectic kinds of people, the different businesses, organizations that come through here,” said Jake Dehahn, owner of Bowtie Boulevard. “I said, ‘you know what? Bowtie Boulevard would fit in great here for a first launch,’ and it’s been going great so far.”
Just two months ago, Dehahn began repurposing used clothing. He goes to thrift shops, garage sales and consignment shops and once he finds something unique, he rips it up and sews it into a bow tie. Each one is names after the neighborhood where the fabric was discovered. The idea began with a school project.
“And with that being said, there’s only a limited addition of those bow ties being produced. So people, are very much–the whole concept is people are going to jump on that because they know there’s only so many of them,” Dehahn said.
A concept many other vendors here survive on. Most are artists, offering customers something one of a kind.
“In order to sell something here you have to be making it–arts and crafts so to speak. You cannot sell somebody else’s work, it’s not a flee market, so it must be hand made,” said Sharon Sherman, chair of the Westcott Street Cultural Fair.
The fair came about 27 years ago when people living in Westcott noticed their neighborhood was on the decline.
“People were concerned, wanted to do something upbeat for the neighborhood, so they started the fair,” Sherman said.
The event now brings in thousands of people to experience a part of the city they might never get to see. For people like Dehahn, it’s a way to get a foot in the door.
“It’s all about people who are excited about making what they make or selling what they find because when you’re an entrepreneur, you put your heart and soul into it,” Dehahn said.
Event organizers say this year broke the attendance record with 11,769 people attending the Cultural Fair, beating last year’s attendance of around 11,000.