The acclaimed group of food vendors who set up around Red Hook's soccer fields are returning to their spots on the corner of Bay and Clinton streets tomorrow! The Red Hook Food Vendors, who line the fields selling authentic South and Central American specialties, will take their spots Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. This means Mexican huaraches piled high with goodies, Guatemalan rellenitos and oodles of other delectable goodies. And now that the Smith-9th Station is finally reopened it will be that much easier to get out there. Which is especially good news for the vendors, who say they've been struggling.

For nearly 40 years the vendors have gathered on weekends to cook and sell to the teams of soccer players and the family and friends who show up to support and watch the games. But in 2007 the city tried to open up the permit process to other vendors, and there were fears that new caterers would win a bidding war. After a tense standoff, the vendors were issued a six year permit, which would allow them to operate at the ballfields. Yearly fees from the Parks Department—which, at the time, amounted to approximately $10,000 for the entire group—were locked in at a 5 percent increase each year. But the strain of meeting the city's strict regulations, which included upgrading the charming folding table and plastic tarp operation into the mobile street trucks they use today, meant a significant increase in overheard, and some vendors haven't been able to keep up.

Serious Eats also points to the abundance of outdoor markets currently attracting large crowds during the warmer months, a kind of competition the Red Hook vendors didn't face until recent years. "If there's not enough support, there's not enough reason to continue as a group," explained César Fuentes, Executive Director of the Red Hook Food Vendors. So if you don't want to see a New York City culinary treasure disappear into the white noise of the artisanal glut, get your butt out to Red Hook this summer!

Save the papusa! (wallyg/Flickr)