Last week my team and I launched our 4th annual Harlem EatUp! Festival. I couldn't be more thrilled to bring back one of the most exciting festivals of the year because this festival is unlike any other I've been to or participated in.
My partner Herb Karlitz and I started this festival to bring attention to a neighborhood that was constantly being overlooked by consumers, especially in the food space. I've lived in many neighborhoods, traveled to many countries, and Harlem is a community that I am constantly inspired by. With its amazing people, history, and deep, rich culture, I felt strongly about wanting to create something that would celebrate its uniqueness and show New York City (and the world!) what many were missing out on.
None of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors. Most of them are returning for our fourth year. Being that Harlem often lacks major foot traffic and had never hosted anything quite like this before, many brands took a leap of faith when signing on that first year. However, we have learned one thing year after year and that is: activating in underserved communities is also great for business.
Our Founding Sponsor, Citi, was one of the first calls I made when starting the festival and they said yes right away, knowing the value and potential of community engagement. Having worked with them on various parts of the festival, it feels good to know objectives for both sides are being met. " Our sponsorship enables us to engage with local culinary entrepreneurs and innovators to help them grow their businesses and build relationships with peers and patrons," says Tina Davis, Managing Director of Global Sponsorships and Marketing, Citi.
Another partner from the beginning, Bordeaux Wines, says it has been great to strengthen direct connection with consumers at the festival’s wine seminars tastings. The festival has also opened doors and put Bordeaux on the radar of so many Harlem restaurants. "It's very exciting for us to see how our participation in this festival translates to sales with consumers, and better relationships with restaurants," says Bordeaux's representative for North America, Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW.
Regardless the size of the sponsor company, the results are impactful and it's incredible to see what happens when business get involved in supporting and celebrating a community like Harlem. Now I get to witness over 11,000 guests, participants and sponsors, together for the same purpose, celebrating and supporting Harlem businesses. It is truly a win-win for the brands, the local businesses and the residents. We are excited to see what this year brings and hope we see more of you at Harlem EatUp! 2018, May 14-20. Check out our video recap of last year here !