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Queens Chronicle

JAMS Festival: Still new after all these years

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Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019 10:30 am

For 22 years, the Jamaica Arts and Music Summer Festival has been about the biggest, most eclectic summer block party in the borough.

Just the way Cultural Collaborative Jamaica intends to keep it.

“It’s a family event with 400 multicultural vendors selling food, fashion, jewelry and other items,” said CCJ Executive Director Tyra Emerson in a telephone interview with the Chronicle last week.

“Some people tell me they come just for the food,” she said. “They tell me they don’t have lunch so they can eat at the festival.”

Of course, with the “M” in JAMS standing for music, Emerson said the free annual Friday night “JAMS Under the Stars” kickoff concert is once again scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2 in Rufus King Park on Jamaica Avenue between 150th and 153rd Streets.

There also will be the main stage on Saturday located at 164th Street featuring a number of live musical performances, including some area artists and performers, and others visiting to perform.

Not wanting to give away all their surprises, Emerson said revelers should be able to find “some names they know among the performers.”

For the children there also will be the traditional offerings such as balloon animals and face painting, though Emerson said there once again will be a children’s block of free activities.

“It’s important to the board that we have a free block,” she said.

And one of the new features this year will be a block for seniors on 165th Street between Jamaica and Archer avenues sponsored by Healthfirst, with music, a dance floor and other amenities.

“A lot of seniors may want to attend JAMS, but may not want or be able to walk 10 blocks,” she said. “We’ve called senior centers, churches, invited people from senior housing to all come down.”

Classic and antique automobile aficionados once again will be able to walk around at the car show.

There also will be a farmers market, where people can choose from a large variety of produce for both colorful, flavorful and healthy eating.

Emerson said one of her favorites is the vendors selling water coconuts which are sliced open and can help keep revelers cool from summer temperatures during the festivities.

Another sweet beverage returning this year will be proffered by vendors crushing fresh sugar cane in a press to squeeze out the juice.

“I thought that was interesting,” Emerson said.

The festival can be reached by numerous means of public transportation.

The F subway line runs parallel to the route along Hillside Avenue two blocks to the north, with stops at Parsons Boulevard and 169th Street.

The E and J/Z lines run parallel to the south along Archer Avenue, with a stop at Parsons.

More than a dozen bus routes — some of which will be rerouted because of the festival — serve the Hillside, Jamaica and Archer avenues corridors between Parsons Boulevard and 170th Street.

‘JAMS Festival’
When: Sat., Aug. 3, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Where: Jamaica Avenue from Parsons Blvd. to 170th St.
Entry: Free. Food and merchandise vendors do charge.

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