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There were no cars or buses, but lots of music, food, fun

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One of the pleasures of a street fair that goes on for blocks is the freedom of a pedestrian to walk up the middle of a street usually oppressed with cars and buses.

So it was at the all-day Jamaica Arts and Music Summer Festival last Saturday on Jamaica Avenue between Parsons Boulevard and 169th Street.

Of course, walking up the yellow traffic line with impunity was the least of the pleasures. Though it was a sweltering, overcast day, the event was well attended. The stroller could find just about everything for sale, including books ($7 each, $20 for three), a machine that chewed everything into coleslaw, jewelry, watches, sheet sets, nightgowns, pillows, handbags, balloons, and sneakers that looked a bit used.

The rubber broom exhibit drew an especially large crowd, since we all want better ways to clean our floors. A gentleman demonstrated how the indestructible broom cleaned all surfaces perfectly. “We’re selling it at half price for $10!”

Another vendor sold t-shirts that could be customized with photographs of one’s family on them, another sold bad paintings, and others sold videos (‘Rush Hour 2’?) Perfumes were going for $3 each .

At the main stage on 165th Street a jazz band was blowing “Summertime,” and the hustlers for the politicians were out in force, joined by the preachers exhorting the crowd to salvation, including, amazingly, a group of excruciatingly clean-cut and well-dressed elders from the Mormon Church. These guys weren’t even sweating.

You couldn’t help feeling sorry for Geoffrey the Giraffe from Toys R Us and Winnie the Pooh, who entertained the many children. The stifling heat of wearing those costumes in such weather must be left to the imagination.

A Latino band performed in front of the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning and the writer dipped inside just to get cool, and get a quick look at the Fern Logan exhibit, which featured Logan’s photos of rich and famous African Americans from Gordon Parks to Jacob Lawrence to Romare Bearden and Ed Bradley.

Across the hall, in another gallery, girls in scarlet and spangles practiced their dance routine. Of course, food was everywhere, from grilled franks and Italian sausages and bratwurst and shish kabobs to ice cream, falafel, souvlakis, sweet potato fries, corn on the cob and mozzarepa — cakes of sweet fried corn and mozzarella cheese. Funnel cakes sold for $4 — you could get a knock-off Gucci bag for almost that much down the street.

The JAMS Festival was the culmination of a three-week long celebration that also hosted the Under the Stars Free Concerts in Rufus King Park which featured The Yalloppin’ Hounds, Roy Ayers and the Cucho Martinez and Jimmy Sabater Project.

All in all, it was a great party.

Reach Qguide writer Arlene McKanic by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

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