Marty Markowitz, the vice president of borough promotion and engagement at NYC & Co., kicked off the first day of the Flushing World Fair last Friday at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel — located at 135-20 39th Ave.
The three-day expo from June 15-17 referenced the iconic 1964 World’s Fair through the prism of today’s contemporary global village of Flushing, featuring presentations by experts in tourism, international cuisine, social media, walking tours, business workshops, and the first Passport to Flushing, with special discounts provided by some of the area’s best local restaurants, cultural venues, and retailers.
“New York City has astonishing landmarks and attractions, unique and overwhelming energy and Flushing is a big part of it,” Markowitz, the former Brooklyn borough president, said. “I’m thrilled to experience the inaugural Passport to Flushing food and culture crawl. Let’s just say I love to eat -- and combine that with culture — and it’s a win-win.”
City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said the Flushing World Fair is a great opportunity for people from all over New York and beyond to discover the real Flushing.
“Whether you’re looking to try new and exotic foods or hoping to discover New York’s untold histories, our community has something for everyone,” Koo said.
The expo was organized by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Asian Americans for Equality as part of the three-year district marketing campaign called Flushing Fantastic. The expo celebrated the end of the first year of Flushing Fantastic, which is funded by the New York City Department of Small Business Services Neighborhood 360° Program, according to John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. It was expected to draw more than 500 visitors.
“Flushing businesses offer an incredibly rich and diverse mix of culture from around the globe in one convenient location,” said Crystal Feng, program manager at Asian Americans for Equality. “We want to share this jewel of the city with the rest of the world and give local businesses the support they need to tell their engaging stories.”
Rob McKay, director of public relations for the Queens Tourism Council, led a diverse forum discussion on the future of Queens with speakers from area businesses. Throughout the day, they conducted workshops on tourism and social media for small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to tap into the growing market for authentic experiences and unique products and services — ranging from Taiwanese tea tastings to delicious South Indian dosas served up at the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, the fourth largest commercial district in New York.
Helen You, chef and owner of Dumpling Galaxy — located at 42-35 Main St. in Flushing — started her business 10 years ago when she opened a small shop with one assistant making dumplings.
“When we started, we did better with responses from customers and expanded four years ago into a restaurant,” You said. “Flushing has a lot to offer, and if you want to open a business, you have to work hard.”
The weekend’s programming also featured several walking tours of Flushing, including an exploration of historic sites led by Jack Eichenbaum, the Queens Borough historian, and a tour of the neighborhood’s diverse and delicious cuisine led by Joe DiStefano, a Queens-based food writer and author of “111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha