Sydney's longest running street fair is back with a few newbies and one curious oldie
Thirty-three years is a long run for any community event, so Glebe Street Fair is celebrating that history by bringing back a legendary spectacle from the event’s first year – the Greatest Waiter Race – a mad dash of local waiters running the one-kilometre stretch of Glebe Point Road.
“The funny thing about running an event with great tradition is that people come to you with their favourite story, and a recurring question was ‘what happened to the Great Waiter Race?’ says festival director Kris Spann.
Restaurants like Thievery will put forward a challenger for the game show-style race in which spectators can lob water bombs at the contestants as they navigate obstacles, carrying a tray of glasses. “It won’t quite be Tough Mudder, but it won’t be easy,” says Spann. “The prize is glory.”
Born in 1984, Glebe Street Fair is the oldest street fair in Sydney, so it comes with a degree of expectation. Each year, close to 100,000 people visit the 200 market stalls and three music stages around the suburb.
Spann, also born in 1984, says “the event’s all grown up” as they plan to stay up past their usual bedtime with music running until 7.30pm at the Sunset Block Party. Acts include hip-hop duo Coda Conduct, roots band the Strides and DJs from the Inner West Reggae Disco Machine. There’ll be a pop-up bar, too, and a DJ competition.
The event is not-for-profit, sponsored by City of Sydney and brands like Airbnb. Proceeds from the event go towards community projects like Glebe Parklet, Glebe Youth Service, and the Robyn Kemmis Indigenous Student Scholarship.
“It’s a very established event and has its own momentum, but the problem with these events in Sydney is increase in costs year-on-year. We have to be inventive. We’ve tried to be smarter rather than larger."
There’ll be a talks and workshops stage with events run by the School of Life and free tours by the Culture Scouts. Plus, live indie and blues music during the day by Iluka, Marlene Cummins and Alice Terry. For kids, head to Glebe Public School for dinosaur rides, face painting, pony rides and free music.
“Glebe is a place you can be yourself,” says Spann, who’s lived in the suburb for five years and runs the co-working space the Works. “It’s a very diverse community, it’s got creative flair but it’s not trying to be something it’s not. That’s what I like about it.”