Last Friday, members of the Downtown Flushing Commercial Revitalization Steering Committee, comprised of elected officials, community organizations and local businesses, announced that the two-day event will take place on June 28 and 29.
“It’s an opportunity for not only people from outside the community to come and see what we have to offer,” said John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, “but also for the small business owners and entrepreneurs to learn, get resources, connect and build on the great legacy of this community.”
The second Flushing’s World Fair is funded by the Department of Small Business Services’ Neighborhood 360 program. The expo and food crawl marks the end of the second year of Flushing Fantastic, the neighborhood’s three-year district marketing campaign.
“We want to get the message out that Flushing is a wonderful place to do business, but also to have fun,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.
According to Choe, last year’s inaugural fair drew a couple hundred people.
“We definitely feel more people should be coming to this event,” he said.
The committee plans to ramp up the “Passport to Flushing” food and culture crawl this year. The passport features special promotions and discounts by some of the area’s best local restaurants and cultural venues.
Last year, the group only made 2,000 copies of the printed passports, which are distributed to visitors and are available at participating venues.
This year, Choe said, they’re going to expand it to 10,000 copies. The passport program will also be extended from two days to two weeks.
“Last year was a lot of fun, and this year is going to be even more fun,” said Rob MacKay, who heads the Queens Tourism Council. “Next year, the sky’s the limit.”
The event will begin on Friday, June 28 at Queens College with an 8 a.m. breakfast and business forum on Asian-American Women Entrepreneurs.
“We really want to uplift some of the issues they face because we can do better in terms of supporting Asian-american women entrepreneurs,” Choe said.
Following a tour of the college’s tech incubator, the expo will launch the “Passport to Flushing” at 11 a.m. The keynote speaker at the launch will be Joe DiStefano, author of “111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss.”
DiStefano, who has led food tours in Queens for the last decade, said Flushing remains his most popular tour.
“This is all I do,” he said. “I spend a lot of time thinking about this.”
Starting at noon will be a local business and resource showcase at Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, followed by a marketing forum moderated by MacKay. Presentations will be made by Sixty-First Productions and Brandtree Media.
The first day of the expo will conclude with business workshops and a reception. Saturday, June 29 will be entirely devoted to walking tours led by local experts.
At last year’s food tour, DiStefano said there were many longtime Flushing residents who attended, some of whom were Asian and others who were not. They all “loved it,” he said.
He took them to places like Tasty Popcorn Chicken and Soy Bean Chen, a tofu spot located inside a flower shop. DiStefano ended the tour with durian for dessert.
“My hope is that if you’re from New York, now you have the confidence to come back here and explore a little bit,” he said. “Sort of break down the barrier, real or imagined, so that everybody can come to the table.”