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Bell Blvd. bustles with Bayside business at BID arts fair

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Photo gallery

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Ava Lewis, 17 months, plays with her helicopter at the Arts Festival in Bayside. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Kelly Chan (top), from Tiger Schulmann's, shows off martial arts moves with Julio Arce. Photo by Christina Santucci
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City Councilman Dan Halloran (r.) and staff member Victor Mimoni visit the fair. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Emma O'Neil, 9, from Bayside, tries out a pogo stick. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Liz Giangreco and her son Thomas, 3 1/2, peruse items at the Bayside Village Business Improvement District's summer arts fair. Photo by Christina Santucci

Vendors, local businesses, shoppers and even some high-kicking martial artists packed 41st Avenue near the Long Island Rail Road station Saturday for the Bayside Village Business Improvement District’s summer arts fair.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community — not only from Bayside, but people from all over Queens — to see what Bell Boulevard has to offer,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who added that visitors to his office often schedule lunchtime meetings. “Whenever people visit my office, they always say what great restaurants we have on Bell.”

“This really kicks things off,” said BID Executive Director Lyle Sclair, who is focusing on the organization’s annual meeting July 16 and a “Roll Up the Gates” event, where prospective tenants will get an opportunity to tour available retail space on Bell Boulevard.

Sclair said the point of the festival was to increase foot traffic along the shopping corridor, pointing to the recent opening of Bare Burger near 43rd Avenue and the plan for D’Alessandro’s Corner Grill on the corner of Bell and 40th Avenue as proof the strategy was working.

“These places are starting to be rented, and what’s important is that all these places are hiring,” he said.

Shoppers perused tents for items, such as sterling silver jewelry and semi-precious gem stones from Rosanna Jewels and nuts, dried fruits and trail mixes sold by Steve Krystall.

“It was a little slow this morning, but hopefully people will come out,” he said, adding that every festival he attends has its idiosyncrasies. “For the life of me I can’t figure out why different things sell in different places.”

Cinnamon almonds appeared to be popular with Baysiders.

Melinda Yellin, a trainer from the Bell Plaza Sports Club south of Northern Boulevard, was offering free body composition measuring and free, three-day passes.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get the word out on health and fitness,” she said, adding she agreed with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to limit the size of sugary drinks that can be sold in city restaurants. “Soda is poison. I’d rather see a person eat a piece of cake. I think it’s great, anything to reduce the amount of sugar.”

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) was on hand to offer a few words of praise for the BID.

“It’s fantastic. It’s another great job by the Bayside BID. It’s always evolving, and it really shows how the BID and businesses are working together,” he said.

A crowd even gathered to watch Julio Arce and Kelly Chan, trainers from the Tiger Schulmann’s mixed-martial arts school, demonstrate their moves.

Lena Kuliyev came with her husband, Roman, and two young daughters, Nicole and Ilana, from Bay Terrace. They stopped by Art Hand Made, which sells bracelets, ornamental animals and dream catchers made by Marina Costeneda’s grandparents in Ecuador.

Ilana poured over the selection for a few minutes, finally settling on a little ornamental bug.

“Pink’s my favorite color!” she shouted excitedly.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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