Photos by Lauren Thomas
“It’s always more fun to share with everyone,” sang the kids’ rock band Fuzzy Lollipop last Sunday afternoon at the Rosendale Street Festival. It was a refrain that could easily serve as a slogan for the upbeat annual community event, which was celebrating its 35th anniversary at the 2013 gathering.
Under a canopy next to the Canal Lock Stage where Fuzzy Lollipop was playing, 9-year-old Harper Branitz of New Paltz was working away at a flag made from recycled materials provided by the Samsonville-based organization UrthArts. The owner of three dogs, Branitz was painting a pattern that she described as “a paw with swirly things.” Asked what she liked best about the Rosendale Street Festival, the young artist replied without hesitation, “Lemonade!”
Lemonade, frozen and otherwise, was available from quite a few of the street vendors present, and a popular item with fairgoers in the weekend’s heat. “They’re drinking them down and coming right back,” said Michelle Till, who was spinning the blenders for Lemon Love of Saugerties, a presence at the festival for the past four years. She noted that attendance seemed a little lower than in some past years, but added, “We still did pretty good.”
While thousands of people were strung out along the expanse of Rosendale’s Main Street that was closed to traffic for the festival and congregating at its six stages — 15,000 to 20,000 over the course of the weekend, per the estimation of festival organizer Charlie Kniceley — the crowd was not elbow-to-elbow, as it is has been at some times in the past. Vendors mostly blamed the persistent heat wave for the relatively light turnout. “The crowd was much thinner yesterday, but we sold more tee-shirts,” observed Tito Walsh of Wall Signs and Graphics of Stone Ridge. “It was hot, but we had a little bit of a breeze.” Walsh, the brother-in-law of Rosendale town supervisor Jeanne Walsh, said that his company’s booth has “been in the same spot since 1978,” the festival’s first year.
Rosendale being a community known nearly as much for its concentration of creative minds as for its packed annual roster of festivals, locals came up with a variety of fun ways of making the weather seem less oppressive. One Main Street residence had a sprinkler pumping away in its driveway and kids were running gleefully in the spray. On a side street, the festival had set up the latest innovation in bouncy-castle technology: an inflatable structure with a long water slide down the middle. Admission was free.
For the adults, several beer gardens offered cold liquid relief. The one set up in the parking lot of the 1850 House Inn & Tavern took the “garden” motif seriously: A veritable tropical rainforest of potted shrubs and flowers surrounded the serving and seating area, provided by Rosendale-based plant retailer Victoria Gardens.