It’s rare that one hooks into local traditions that have maintained their basic form for 83 years running, as the annual Woodstock Library Fair has. It’s even rarer when such traditions keep finding ways to return to older traditions over the years, even as the town and world around them modernize.
The basic form of the ways in which the Woodstock Library celebrates itself and its community each July is simple: First off, it’s cheap, a matter of dollars to get in. There are books for sale, lots of music, great food, a bit of beer and plenty of stuff for kids to do (meaning that there are always lots of the very young, as well as village elders on hand). Secondly, it’s aimed squarely at locals in a tourist town, starting and closing fairly early (for these things), right on the library grounds – which means that everyone gets out and sees each other, passes greetings, lets battle lines drop to revel in the fact that they have such a grand, responsive, active library centering everything. It also runs rain or shine, with little change in attendance or spirits either way the skies trend.
It starts a bit before 10 a.m. with a children’s costume parade down Tinker Street to the library grounds: sort of an inverse Pied Piper tradition revived in recent years. On the roped-off grounds, things run to 5 p.m. with a fullness that keeps many on hand all day long bidding on handmade aprons by mother/daughter teams around the community, checking out the many vintage tomes on sale or wandering through a wildly eclectic (and upscale) rummage-sale tent. Most kids get face-painted before the day’s over, and come home with funny hats and crafts. There are food trucks and volunteers cooking standard summer fare. There are even antiques!
Best of all, there’s a dancefloor for everyone enjoying the day and music enough to boogie down, as the town has become famous for. And what a musical lineup, including choruses, a Pete Seeger tribute, the talented kids from Paul Green’s Rock Academy, big radio deejays, the Dharma Bums, the Cupcakes and the Lindsay Webster Band, plus Jay Collins and the 4 Notes and frequent special guests throughout the day.
Get there early and stay late; learn why Woodstock has stayed so, well, Woodstock for so long – and keeps getting Woodstockier!
Woodstock Library Fair, Saturday, July 26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., rain or shine, Woodstock Library. 5 Library Lane, Woodstock; (845) 679-2213, https://woodstock.org.