ITHACA, N.Y.—A new market and festival is coming to the Ithaca Commons Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning June 25 and ending Aug. 20, 2022.

Black Hands Universal, a community organization affiliated with Southside Community Center, is putting together weekends of performances and shows that will also have vendors from local artists and food and other vendors.

Located at the Bernie Milton Pavilion and nearby alley, performers, the occasion’s resident DJ and vendors will set up with space to allow people to mingle, get some food and enjoy the performances.

Harry Smith of Black Hands Universal, said that he and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA) had felt like something was missing from downtown Ithaca — and so the idea was born: a small market offering more than just shopping that celebrates people of color and minorities that was more programmatic. “Something not so business-oriented, where people actually get the opportunity to come out and experience this and learn how to do these things,” Smith said.

Fifteen to 20 vendors with five or so repeating food options will attend each week, offering things like Caribbean food, Dominican food, tacos, frozen lemonade and more, plus stands offering other goods like clothing, body lotions and similar items.

Smith said that, while working with the DIA, the opportunity for a market space was presented. “Entrepreneurialism is really needed in our community,” he said, “And we brought it all together and made it more community-oriented by bringing in the minority organizations and nonprofit organizations that do the work here.”

“We brought this all together and made it more community-oriented by bringing in the minority organizations and nonprofits that do work here in the community, it’s a way of working with the DIA to let people know what’s going on in our city and town,” Smith said.

The vendor goods include skincare and candles from Lavender In Luxe, arts and crafts from Southside Community Center, crafts and plants from Evolution, produce from the Youth Farm Project, personal care products from Luxe Eleven by CoCo and several others.

A performance schedule has not yet been fully finalized, but performers include Community Unity Music Education Program, Deraisi Revolutionary Dance Troupe, New Roots and the Pantheras, to name a few.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is the digital editor/reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Joining in November 2021, she has covered a wide range of topics related to local news. She can be reached at,...