Fun fair gets by­gone era back into full swing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - JESSICA GOUR­DON

NEW YORK­ERS, said to al­ways em­brace the next new thing, will now have a chance to sam­ple rides and amuse­ments en­joyed by fun seek­ers a cen­tury ago.

The in­au­gu­ral Fete Par­adiso fair will re­cre­ate the fes­ti­val, in­clud­ing at­trac­tions such as a vin­tage French bi­cy­cle carousel and a metic­u­lously re­stored pipe or­gan.

The first fair took place on New York’s Gover­nor’s Is­land and fea­tured a dozen rides and at­trac­tions pop­u­lar from about 1850 to 1950.

The an­tique at­trac­tions be­long to two avid col­lec­tors of French fairground arts.

French na­tive Fran­cis Staub made his for­tune man­u­fac­tur­ing cast iron casserole pots that bear his name. The other col­lec­tor, Regis Mas­clet, was a suc­cess­ful ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive in Rennes who now spends his time restor­ing an­tique rides.

“Th­ese are all col­lec­tors’ items,” Mas­clet said. “For ex­am­ple, we have a rare ride – a ve­loci­pede – which runs by ped­alling. It was built in the late 19th cen­tury to pro­mote cycling, at the time horses dis­ap­peared from cities.”

Mas­clet and Staub launched the idea for their an­tique fun fair 18 months ago, pre­sent­ing it to var­i­ous cities around the world, among them Ber­lin and Lon­don, but New York agreed to it first.

Or­gan­is­ers said other cities around the US were likely to fol­low suit.

“We would like to con­tinue the tour on the west coast and back to New York if it works,” said Tris­tan Du­val, who heads Com­mu­nity, a French or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing tourism and the arts, which is stag­ing the event.

Fete Par­adiso will also fea­ture car­ni­val-style foods, or­gan­is­ers said.

Du­val said he was not ex­pect­ing to make a profit on the New York fair, but hoped that word of mouth would help make it pop­u­lar at fu­ture venues where it would be mounted. The fair will run un­til Septem­ber 29.

The fes­ti­val is part of a sweep­ing ef­fort to re­ha­bil­i­tate Gover­nor’s Is­land, a for­mer mil­i­tary base of 28 hectares lo­cated off the south­ern tip of Man­hat­tan, which is ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic only on week­ends and only by ferry.

The New York mayor’s of­fice – known for its ac­tivism in sup­port­ing the arts – took over man­age­ment of the Gover­nor’s Is­land in 2010, and has a plan to in­vest $250 mil­lion (R2.4 bil­lion) in the mas­sive ren­o­va­tion pro­ject.

Sev­eral fes­ti­vals and artis­tic events have been or­gan­ised in the re­fur­bished park. – Sapa-AFP


OLDEN DAYS: Vis­i­tors take a ride on a 19th­cen­tury swing dur­ing a preview of Fete Par­adiso, which or­gan­is­ers say is the world’s first fes­ti­val of vin­tage French car­ni­val rides and carousels. It’s tak­ing place on Gover­nor’s Is­land in New York Har­bour.

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