Gardiner Day attracts a record-breaking crowd of more than 2,000 (with photo gallery)

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Photos by Lauren Thomas


The 24th annual Gardiner Day was a resounding success this past Saturday at Majestic Park, with record numbers of people attending, blue skies, apple pies, hayrides and pony rides.

“It’s such an incredible event, because there’s so much for a family to do,” said Gardiner resident Janine Brutvan, who was there with her three kids. “My daughter had her face painted, went on pony rides, made sand art, watched some great live entertainment — and it’s all free! It’s truly a community event, and we’re able to walk to it, enjoy it — and now are heading off to the book sale.”


Pie bakeoff

Nothing says “small town” like an apple pie bakeoff, which took place between 1:30 and 2 p.m. under the country craft tent. Cindy Dates, one of the approximately 16 Gardiner Day Committee members who work year-round to organize, fundraise for and put together the event, explained how the pie contest worked: “They sign up ahead of time, bring a homemade pie. If they use King Arthur Flour [a company based out of Vermont], then they get an extra five points in the overall scoring.”


King Arthur Flour sponsors the ribbons and prizes for the pie bakeoff. “We have three local judges,” she said. They included Carol O’Biso, a food columnist for the Gardiner Gazette; Carl Borucki, a chef at the Village Market; and Matoaka Garner from the Tuthill House at the Mill restaurant. Set up with samples of each pie and a King Arthur Flour mug filled with water to wipe their palates clean, the judges rated each pie on several things: overall appearance, crust, texture, flavor and “how impressive” or “memorable” it was.

After the judges concluded and the points were tallied, first through third place were awarded and announced by town supervisor Carl Zatz, the emcee of the event, as the names were lifted from the bottom of the pie. First place this year went to Deena Levitz, who prepared an apple crumb pie. She received a ribbon and a $75 gift certificate to King Arthur Flour, which sells all kinds of baking-related items and dishware. Second place went to Alice Rose Lelyveld for her traditional apple pie with a honey golden crust. That earned her a ribbon and a $50 gift certificate to King Arthur. Third place went to Alyce Dolce for her fresh strawberry rhubarb pie. Her prize was an enormous King Arthur Flour cookbook. After the winners were announced, hungry eventgoers were offered pieces of the award-winning pies for $2 per slice.

Paula Trifilo and Evan Trifilo won the pie-eating contest in their respective age groups.


Small-town America

There was an event, game, activity or performance going on in every corner of the park throughout the day. The Alex Jorno Quartet played beautiful blues and jazz tunes underneath the pavilion while Gunx Cross-Fit Gardiner Athletics put on a weightlifting and core-building demonstration that had the crowds cheering them on. There were local karate and dance exhibitions, as well as the Pirate School family show, magicians and the ever-popular free hayrides and pony rides.

When one young girl saw the ponies, she screamed with joy, “Mom, look! Horses! Let’s go!” Three-year-old Laura Williams couldn’t wait for her chance to ride through the fields on a horse guided by professional riders. “This is what small-town America is about and really should be about,” said her mother, Gardiner Day volunteer Laura Williams. “All of us taking care of each other, celebrating what makes our community special and being out here with friends and family.”

Two Gardiner Girl Scout troops were working hard for their money as they helped prepare and serve hot dog and hamburger specials for the line of hungry Gardiner Day attendees. “It’s a great experience for them to learn to interact with the public, serve people, handle money,” said Melissa Curtis, the leader of both Troop 60383 and 60288, which include girls from kindergarten to ninth grade. “They’re all working various shifts and the money we raise goes right back into our programs, events, supplies and trips. We’re here every year and we love it.”

This year’s lucky Gardiner Day raffle winners were Jerry Rice, Harry Miller and Kathy Basile.

Toward the end of the day, emcee Zatz announced that there would be one final performance of the Majestic View Farms’ Peruvian horses, which drew in the crowds. Skydivers dropped from above throughout the day and kids played on the playground, had their faces painted and frolicked through the Majestic Park fields on a beautiful autumn-like day.