Fun fair gets bygone era back into full swing
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.