Attendees of the 25th annual Gardiner Day on Saturday, September 13 at Majestic Park can expect a full day of family-friendly activities and community camaraderie from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free, thanks to the all-volunteer Gardiner Day Committee, who raise funds year-round to put on the event along with their other activities, which include the Easter egg hunt in Majestic Park every spring and the Christmas tree lighting and caroling in the hamlet each December. Their reach extends outward, as well, with annual blood drives and their Women Helping Women fundraiser to benefit the Ulster County Battered Women Shelter.
Jaynie Marie Aristeo is the member of the committee charged with putting together the entertainment for Gardiner Day. While the popular Peruvian horses from Majestic View Farms are already booked elsewhere for the weekend — they’re competing in a national competition, Aristeo said, and will hopefully be back next year — she’s lined up a number of other entertainers who will keep everyone’s attention all day.
Roaming the park from noon to 4 p.m. will be Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus and Wahoo Medicine Show performing impromptu demonstrations. The entertainment tent will have the Palladium Science Academy up first in the day, with experiments involving scientific phenomena, and then David Engel will bring back last year’s crowd-pleaser, the Pirate School Show, an audience participation event appealing to kids and the adults with them, says Aristeo. Following that, Rusty Johnson — licensed for falconry and the raising of protected and endangered species — will take center stage with some of his critters for a wildlife demonstration and talk about preservation. Johnson’s television credits include working with Jim Fowler on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as well as appearances with David Letterman and Conan O’Brien.
The basketball court at Majestic Park will highlight physical fitness, with demos from the New Paltz Karate Academy, Gardiner’s Got Rhythm dance studio, Gardiner Athletics doing cross-fit and David Loewen from Pilates on Main demonstrating his discipline. New this year at the park’s dedicated skateboarding area will be demos by Cliff Glover of the New Paltz-based boarding shop Sacred. He’ll do three different presentations throughout the day and offer safety and other tips on skateboarding.
Three sets of live music will be provided by “Me and My Ex,” a trio made up of Rob Leitner, Ginny Leitner and Scott Milici. In between their sets will be performances by some aspiring young rock musicians. Games of skill and chance, caricature drawings by Dale Gladstone, pony rides all day and hay rides in the afternoon from 2-4 p.m. (sponsored by Paul Colucci) will round out the afternoon, not to mention the ubiquitous bouncy castles and face-painting for kids. Look for the Masonic Adonai Lodge of Highland, too, who offer a free ID-card service to keep youngsters safe.
Food vendors organized by committee member Jewell Turner will include Moon Light Café of New Paltz, Gardiner-based Girl Scout troops 60289 (offering coffee, tea, hot chocolate and baked goods) and 60288 (cooking up hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries). There will be two options for frozen treats from Clintondale, the Ice Brothers and an ice cream truck from Barbara Gerard, along with fried dough from the New Hurley Church of Wallkill, Pasquale’s pizza from Gardiner (and New Paltz) and Jamaican Choice from New Paltz.
Annual fruit pie bake-off
Gardiner Day will also offer the fourth annual fruit pie bake-off competition. Look for it in the Country Living tent, where the domestic arts will be further represented by demonstrations of quilting by Dolly Wodin and Marie Reed, wool spinning by a representative of Gardiner’s White Barn Farm and yarn shop, and crafts made from nature demonstrated by the nonprofit Wild Earth of New Paltz . The tent will also contain some small farm animals for kids to pet from Sylvester’s Chicken Farm in Ulster Park.
And about that pie contest, it’s not too late to bake one: simply deliver it between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Gardiner Day to the Country Living tent. All pies must be made with fresh fruit and a scratch crust only and baked in a disposable pie pan marked on the bottom with name and contact information. All pies must include a legible recipe card and entry form, available at Gardiner Town Hall, the Gardiner branch of Ulster Savings Bank and on the Gardiner Day New York Facebook page.
The fruit pie bake-off is open to home bakers ages 16 and older, but no cream pies, meringues or cream-topped pies are eligible, in a nod to local fruit farmers growing in the region, says organizing committee member Cindy Dates. The contest is sponsored by King Arthur Flour, who first became associated with the hamlet during the first years of the annual Gardiner Cupcake Festival, says Dates. Although they’re a national company, she adds, they’re partial to helping out small communities across the country. King Arthur Flour is donating the prizes, which range from a bakers cookbook for the third prize winner to $50 and $75 gift cards to their store at www.kingarthurflour.com for the second and first place winners, respectively.
Three local judges — yet to be determined at press time — will judge the fruit pies based on overall appearance (40 points), color, flavor and texture of the pie crust (30 points) and color, flavor and texture of the filling (30 points). Five bonus points will be awarded to bakers who use King Arthur brand flour in their pie. (To receive bonus points, exhibitor must bring the opened bag of King Arthur Flour or submit a UPC label from the flour bag when submitting the entry.)
Judging will begin at 1:30 p.m. Exhibitors don’t need to be present to win their prize. All remaining pie will be sold for $2 a slice at the Country Living Tent.
And if all that isn’t enough, stop by the Gardiner Library at 133 Farmer’s Turnpike, a short walk away from the park, where they’ll be holding their big book and CD/DVD sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the community room. (The book fair will be held the following day, as well, on Sunday, September 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Admission is free.