BY BRIAN EDSALL
Instead of avoiding the rain on Sunday, June 4, 1,000 or so people put on their rain jackets, grabbed their umbrellas and walked through downtown Haverstraw to partake in The Flavors of Haverstraw Food Crawl, organized by Haverstraw RiverArts.
The food crawl included over 15 restaurants that participants could visit to sample food and drinks for about $3 to $6 per plate. A diverse array of restaurants provided Puerto Rican fusion, Latin fusion, Spanish, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Dominican, Italian and American choices. Throughout the event, live music featured opera by Anna Veleva, smooth jazz and blues by Jack McLoryd, saxophonist Matt Garrison and the Steve Jordan Band playing rock.
The food crawl, now in its fourth year, saw its most successful turnout despite bad weather. “Previously, our best record for the event was about 750 people,” said Jared Rodriguez, an organizer with Haverstraw RiverArts. “Today we’re pushing 1,000 people, maybe even more.”
Rodriguez stated how the food crawl was about more than just the food. He believes that many people have become hesitant to walk around downtown Haverstraw and he hopes that events such as this can show that it has improved and will continue to improve. Moreover, the event brings together people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and even communities.
“It brings people into the town of Haverstraw,” said Eva Rivera, owner of Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts. “It’s awesome for the businesses, but it’s also productive for the community as a whole.”
Founded in 2016, Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts has witnessed the benefits that the food crawl brings. However, even Lucas Candies – New York’s oldest chocolate shop – has enthusiastically joined this newer tradition.
“We were normally closed during this time of year, but the event was such a success last year that we decided to stay open during the summer … it has really been great,” explained Debbie Bertrand, part-owner of Lucas Candies.
The food crawl has welcomed many new faces who have never seen or heard of the featured restaurants and shops, including Lucas Candies which has remained in the same location since its establishment in 1896.
“This is my first time attending the event,” said Samantha Mercado of Garnerville. “I would definitely recommend it to anyone, it’s awesome … it’s nice to eat locally and see some new places. I wish the weather was better, but the good food made up for that.”