By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — The Lower East Side's bygone days as bustling marketplace returned with the debut of the Hester Street Fair over the weekend, which drew upwards of 12,000 people its opening day.
The market, set up on a tree-lined stretch of Seward Park at Hester and Essex streets, featured everything from local artwork and vintage clothing to freshly made food from some of the area’s more popular eateries.
"We had expected somewhere between 2,000-4,000 [people], so you can imagine our shock," said fair co-organizer and MTV personality SuChin Pak. "We are still recovering and are gearing up for another huge weekend ahead. If it's sunny outside, we will most likely hit those numbers every weekend."
Organizers of the fair hoped to pay tribute to the Lower East Side’s culture and history by hearkening back to Hester Street’s days as a hub for street peddlers selling everything from fish and bread to fresh produce.
“There were plenty of neighborhood folks turning out — but also lots of people who seldom (if ever) venture below Delancey, on the Lower/Lower East Side,” the Lo-Down reported.
Sixty vendors set up on Saturday morning, drawing more than 500 people within the first hour, Pak added, including Good Charlotte front man Joel Madden.
“i was so happy i could come support,” Madden posted on his Twitter page Sunday. “It was fun. And the food was the best i've ever had at a street fair.”
Pak explained that the most popular vendors were Luke's Lobster, which had an hour-long line; Silkstone Catering, which cooked 300 omelettes on Saturday alone; Malbon Brothers, which sold out of its barbecue in an hour and a half; and mulitple jewelry and apparel vendors that counted record sales.
"I'm happy to report we have not had one complaint," Pak said, noting that a rotating group of vendors will set up at the fair each weekend. "I think us city folk are used to the crowds and no one seemed too bothered."
The fair will be open on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through December.