Whether going to hear a favorite band (in this case, Boukman Experyans did not disappoint), to take in the atmosphere, or to enjoy Brooklyn's Haitian community and culture, this is an especially worthwhile trip because, whatever your impetus, you will be submerged in all three.
When you arrive at the Bandshell area, you will notice that it is roped off from other grass, and you will notice quite a few families and other groups who have spread out their blankets and set up barbeques outside of the zone. This may lead you to believe that you have to pay to enter when your money is solicited-- this is not the case. You are welcome to enter the festival zone whether or not you contribute to it. $3 donation is average.
If you set up outside the zone you will enjoy access to tables of local community groups which is a good place to interact with people who are involved in their communities and are available to provide information about what they do-- you might be able to figure out some volunteer project here if that's something you're looking for. Another highlight of these tables is their authentic, homecooked food (mostly non-vegetarian) and refreshing slices of watermelon.
Inside "the zone" you will also have access to these tables, as well as more established businesses who want to sell you food (Two Boots Pizza, minus the pizza, has vegetarian rice and beans for $3, brownies for $3, italian ices $1.) You can sit in the seating up front (metal folding chairs arranged in tight rows) or set up a spot in the sun or shade behind the chairs. Bathrooms are behind the stage, where there is also a water-and music-themed playground.
This is a special way to interact with non-tourist-y Brooklyn in a prize of a park. Bring food and drink, or else budget wisely--you could end up spending a small fortune on keeping yourself hydrated and nourished while you dance amongst members of the largest Haitian community outside of Port-au-Prince.
If you want to attend other outdoor concerts/festivals in this location, check the music listings/upcoming shows in Time Out New York. See July 5, 12, 13 (African Festival),July 19- Talib Kweli and Zap Mama!
New York, New York
July 3, 2002
From journal New York City From A Residential Traveler