As a street vendor we know likes to say, “Food is love.” If that’s so, then the Vendy Awards are a massive, jubilant, gut-busting celebration of that love. Each year, vendors from across New York City are brought to Governors Island not so much to compete, but the share their food and stand up for their rights (though winning the coveted Vendy Cup is a big, big deal – just ask the winners). The event’s sponsor, the Street Vendor Project, which provides advocacy and legal services to vendors, tries to bring together vendors of all backgrounds – humble, immigrant-owned carts from the outer boroughs stand beside slick, high-flying gourmet trucks. And everybody spends the day eating until they can hardly move.
We were proud to be a sponsor of this year’s event – we have worked with the Street Vendor Project on the development of our Midtown and Financial District Food Cart Tours, and 5% of our ticket sales on these tours goes to support their work. At the Vendys, the Turnstile Tours team offered abbreviated versions of our regular food cart tours, where we visited three of the Vendy Cup-nominated vendors, explained the basics of owning and operating a street vending business, and talked about the challenges and hurdles vendors must navigate. Though we didn’t get the chance to share the stories behind all 24 of the nominated carts and trucks, we did distribute postcard-sized maps of where to find them all in New York City (check it out here – or ask for one when you join us for a tour), so even if you missed the Vendys, you can still support all the vendors.
We put together this short video about our day at the Vendys with our team. All we can add is that next year, keep your eyes peeled for Vendys tickets, and support the great work of the Street Vendor Project.
Special thanks to Helena, Sean, and the whole team at the Street Vendor Project. We’d also like to thank our team of guides, researchers, and volunteers who came with us out to Governors Island, and our musical friends from dearly departed Penelope, who generously allowed us to use their music in the video (the band is no longer around, but their Myspace page lives on).