For Bronx foodies, Hunts Point is Mecca.
The Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation held its 23rd Annual Tent Party on Thursday, September 30. Despite awind-driven rain pounding hard against the tent set up at the Hunts Point’s New Fulton Fish Market, the atmosphere inside was joyous.
Attendants showed up to celebrate food and all that is good about the Hunts Point business community.
Gary Axelbank, host of the talk show “Bronxtalk” on BronxNet, was the master of ceremonies as awards were presented to seven individuals and companies in the ceremony.
Axelbank said that the “biggest and “best” food was on display at the tent party. The event also included greetings by Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and a keynote address by Comptroller John Liu.
“The Hunts Point Tent Party has established itself as the perennial event to celebrate the vitality of the Hunts Point business community and its thriving food distribution center,” Liu said.
He added that the markets help feed 20 million people and indirectly support 8.500 jobs, as well as provide produce to over 10,000 food retailers. Liu pledged his support to market renovations that will keep the food distribution hub in Hunts Point viable into the future.
The Green Innovations Award was presented to Edward Taylor of Down East Seafood for his investment in Hunts Point’s first all-electric refrigerated truck.
The Hispanic Heritage Award was presented to the Bodega Association of the United States.
The Business of the Year Award was taken home by Gus and Mike Tyrus of Victory Food Distribution Corporation.
The Community Service Award was won by Neil Stevenson of The Lawyers Alliance.
The winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award was Dr. Ebony Kirkland of Ebony Marketing.
And finally, the meaningful Founders Award was presented to Joe Vessecchia, senior vice president and group director of Signature Bank.
Vessecchia said it felt terrific to be an award winner. He has spent most of his banking career, spanning 40 years, servicing the businesses of Hunts Point at four different lending institutions.
“I joined Marine Midland Bank in 1966 when it was the bank that served the produce industry in Hunts Point,” Vessecchia said. “I have been able to cement many relationships since then.”
Many businesses, said last year’s Founders Award recepient Matthew D’Arrigo, have been banking with Vessecchia for generations.
Both established business in Hunts Point as well as new businesses to the area had an opportunity to showcase their products. Fedcap, an organization that trains the disabled for jobs and is setting up shop in the Banknote Building, had a table at the tent party.
“We love participating in events like this because it introduces us to the business community of Hunts Point,” said Jennifer Bertrand of Fedcap.