The Village of New Paltz is poised to throw a block party on Aug. 5 in honor of its 125th anniversary. While mayor Jason West first posed the idea of throwing a “birthday party” for the village, he quickly called upon some trusted movers and shakers, Deb Rauch and Steve Casa, to see if they’d be interested in helping to organize something.
“He got us all cranked up and ready to go, and we quickly began reaching out to other organizations like the New Paltz Chamber of Commerce, the DBA [Downtown Business Association] and others who had helped us work on Flood Aid,” said Rauch.
The committee, made up of Rauch, Casa, West, Ben Resch, deputy mayor Sally Rhoads, trustee Ariana Basco, Julie Robbins (of the DBA), Mike Smith (of the Chamber) and KT Tobin began meeting weekly and tossing ideas around. “There were a million ideas, but the one that stuck was making a street fair — not a two-day event like Rosendale, but more like a New York City street fair that lasts a couple of hours,” said Rauch.
The committee proposed Sunday, Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to the Village Board, asking that it close down Main Street from P&G’s to Neko Sushi and Church Street from Main to North Front Street, so that the village could have a “walkable street fair.”
“This was, honestly, the easiest fundraising effort I’ve ever done — and I’ve done a lot,” said Rauch. “Every business was so excited to be part of this, and [they] were so generous with their sponsorships.” The committee has already met its $10,000 goal, with some of the Platinum sponsors (donating $1,000) being the Gilded Otter, Seakill Builders, Wells Fargo and Stop & Shop, along with a half-dozen Gold sponsors including P&G’s, McGillicuddy’s, First Care and Empire State Bank.
The money, according to Resch and Rauch, is going primarily for “the bands, the building of the stage, advertising, tee-shirts for the volunteers.” She noted that Robert Feldman and his son Joe are doing the website for free, just as they helped with the Flood Aid website: www.villageofnewpaltz125th.org.
The stage is being created by local artist Ryan Cronin and will be a “moving stage,” located between P&G’s and Starbucks.
Casa, who is in charge of the music, has booked four bands, including the headlining act, National Blues Award nominee the Alexis P. Suter Band, the Hudson Valley native teenage phenom Connor Kennedy and homegrown New Paltz bands Love Taps and Snow Bear, as well as Ratboy Jr., who will perform in the children’s area on Church Street.
According to Rauch, the Woodcrest Community of Rifton has committed to helping run and safeguard the children’s area, which will have a plethora of activities including face-painting, chalk art, a dunking booth and a pie-eating contest!
Food vendors and businesses will have booths lined up and down Main Street and along Church Street. “This is an all-New Paltz vending event,” noted Rauch. “Our businesses took such a hit last fall with all of the flooding that we are really encouraging people to come out and support them. We don’t need any more money. If you have an extra $20 or $30, come to the 125th Anniversary Street Festival and spend it at a local business.”
Mayor West noted that Smith from the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce is working “with Arthur Nash from the SUNY-New Paltz Fine Arts Department to create a commemorative coin with the Village’s 125th on one side and the Village Fire Department’s 150th anniversary on the other side.”
In an effort to make things safe, West has spoken with all of the local emergency service providers and has been assured by the fire chief and police chief that the street fest should not cause a problem in terms of emergency access. “That’s why we wanted a rolling stage: Just in case there was an emergency, it could be moved if necessary,” said West.
There will also be a cooling tent and water donated by Stop & Shop in the Oasis parking lot, “in case it’s one of those hot August days and people need some shade and water,” said Rauch. “We will have an ambulance in that area, just in case.” “You can get in and out from that area from Plattekill Avenue, which is great,” added West.
Rauch was quick to point out that, while a portion of Main Street and Church Street will be closed from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the “birthday party will continue after 4 p.m.” She noted that Snug’s was having an “all-day, all-you-can-eat pig roast for $5,” and that there was also the Bon Odori Japanese Dance Festival going on the same day and into the night across from the Gilded Otter.
“It’s also the last day of the Ulster County Fair,” said Rauch. “Will there be traffic? Yes, but it will be rerouted in two directions and all of these events will just help support one another.”
“I think it’s important to reflect back on our past 125 years to help us plan for the next 125 years,” said West. “Think back 125 years ago. The village was doing so many things that we’re trying to do now: eat locally grown food; travel by non-vehicular means; buy and shop locally; live a simpler life. It was the decisions made during these past 125 years that have put us where we are today.”