The 27th annual Westcott Street Cultural Fair on Sunday drew tens of thousands of residents to the main road for six stages of music and dancing, more than seventy booths for artisan goods, and a diverse selection of food. But this was no ordinary street fair. Sharon Sherman, Chair of the Westcott Fair, says the festivities were a celebration of all the neighborhood has accomplished, and what it has become.
“When it was started, the neighborhood was in transition, and not in a positive way,” Sherman said. “So, the idea was to do something to celebrate the neighborhood. Obviously is has grown tremendously. The neighborhood had to find itself, and it has absolutely found itself an identity and type of people that it attracts.”
Westcott Nation prides itself on being one of the most diverse communities in Central New York. The neighborhood saw an influx of residents from Downtown Syracuse that was looking for a more accepting environment. Local business owner Ryan Wood says that Westcott’s rebound from the dark ages could not have happened if it hadn't been for its diversity.
“I think the community in general is just becoming more accepting,” Wood said. “I think there is a lot more empathy around, and just willingness to work with different people. I think this fair is definitely a big part of that. I think it actually is a big representation of that part of the community that we want to show.”
Despite the highs and lows that Westcott has seen in its recent history, its residents are amazed that it has withstood time. Resident Bill Field says that Westcott’s beauty was never bulldozed by gentrification.
“This neighborhood has always stayed the same. A lot of the old time family residences are still here, a lot of them are cut up into apartments, of course, with student housing,” Field said. But, gentrification didn’t happen here. This neighborhood, it doesn’t really change much. Some of the establishments come and go, but Westcott is still there. This is still Westcott.”
Click here for more information on next year’s fair.