BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Community groups in Long Island City will give you not one, but three reasons to visit this spring.
The weekend of May 16-18 is one to mark in your calendar because the LIC Spring, LIC Arts Open and the LIC Flea and Food all take place.
Despite the 7 train shutdowns that loom over Long Island City every weekend through July, the three festivals celebrating the community’s culture of art, food, music and dance will continue, rain or shine.
It all starts with the LIC Flea and Food, back in action on April 5-6. It is the largest market of its kind in Queens and will operate every Saturday and Sunday through October, in a big parking lot at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street. You can find many returning vendors selling vintage clothing, antiques, gifts, food and more.
On May 11, the LIC Arts Open kicks off for a nine-day festival, returning for its third year.
Richard Mazda, one of the LIC Arts Open founders and artistic director at The Secret Theatre in LIC, said the festival is comprised of several components, ranging from dance performances to art shows in studios and venues across the neighborhood.
“We just dreamed it up on the spot and about four months later, we had an enormous art festival on our hands,” Mazda said about the festival’s inception three years ago.
The event grew out of the neighborhood’s annual visual arts attraction, where as many as 500 local artists opened their galleries and studios for one weekend in May, Mazda said.
After cultivating partnerships with local organizations and elected officials, Mazda said the festival has widened its reach to include a block party, a music festival, children’s art competition, dance and theater.
“It’s a very multi-disciplinary festival,” Mazda said.
The third part of the weekend full-of-festivities includes the LIC Springs!, hosted by the LIC Partnership and in conjunction with the Dept. of Transportation’s Weekend Walk Program.
On May 17, Vernon Boulevard will be closed to vehicle traffic between 50th Avenue and 46th Avenue to create a free community block festival.
Jenna Petok, senior manager of marketing and events at LIC Partnership, said the community block festival will feature not only businesses on Vernon Boulevard, but they are asking the whole community to participate.
The activities include exercise and dance classes, musical performances, sculpture-making, Lego-building and more, Petok said.
“There are a lot of businesses and restaurants on Vernon Boulevard, but we also want people to learn that there a lot of artists in the community,” she said.
All LIC businesses are invited to participate and fill out an application by April 7, which is posted to the events calendar on the website, at LICPartnership.org, Petok said.
As for the 13-weekend 7 train shutdowns from Times Square to Queensboro Plaza, Mazda and Dana Frankel, director of economic development at the LIC Partnership, said they expect to see visitors not only from LIC, but from all over the City.
“Although it would be much better if the 7 train was running, there are still plenty of ways to get to Long Island City,” Frankel said.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.