Fourth annual Spring Fest returns to Highland this Saturday

In the 2012 Highland SpringFest Waiter's Race, Michelle Coiro (on left) took second place and Renee Passante (center) took first place.

In the 2012 Highland SpringFest Waiter’s Race, Michelle Coiro (on left) took second place and Renee Passante (center) took first place. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

The streets will be closed to traffic in the hamlet of Highland this Saturday, May 16 for the fourth annual Spring Fest celebration from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The event sponsored by the Highland Business Association and the Town of Lloyd Events Committee goes on rain or shine and admission is free.

The event draws a sizable crowd that gets bigger and more enthusiastic each year. And while Spring Fest has always been about the Highland community getting together to celebrate all it has to offer, organizers say they’re “taking it to a new level” this year. Each of the various nonprofits in town will raise money for their individual causes by sponsoring different activities at the festival, with the Boy Scouts running the children’s carnival, the middle school PTA sponsoring the bouncy castle and the library offering a dunking booth. The library will also have its annual book sale on the lawn at 30 Church Street that day.


The popular Waiters Race event will be a fundraiser this year to benefit 16-year-old Sara Pironi of Highland, recently diagnosed with an aggressive stage-four cancer. All of the proceeds from the entry fees and sponsorship of those running the race will go to the Sara Strong Foundation. (There will still be prizes for the winners, too.) One doesn’t have to be a professional waiter to enter the race; just ready and willing to run while carrying a cocktail tray holding plastic glasses of water on a course that starts at Town Hall and ends in front of the bandstand. (Keeping the water in the glasses counts.)

Also returning will be the Bed Races competition, where teams of four competitors push a bed — with an occupant on it — along the same race route covered by the Waiters Race. Teams choose a theme and decorate the beds accordingly, wearing matching costumes. The competition is spirited as the  teams race two at a time, stopping as they make the turn onto Main Street to perform a “musical chairs” type maneuver in which the occupant of the bed jumps off and all the team members run in circles around the bed a few times before the bed-rider jumps back on and the team takes off again down Main Street pushing the bed and its occupant down to the finish line as fast as possible.

New to Spring Fest this year will be a 5K race starting off the day, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association with proceeds to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Other happenings during the day include performances by local youngsters from Gina Marie’z Academy of Performing Arts, the Highland Huskies Cheerleaders and the students of Highland’s From Stage to Screen Acting Studio, who will give two preview performances of their upcoming shows in the courtyard of their studio. Dan and Harry’s Magic Show will be back; two young men in black suits who carry their suitcases of tricks all over the hamlet to do impromptu performances of magic. And ten people with a strong stomach will compete for cash prizes in a hot dog-eating contest sponsored by the Hudson Valley Sausage Company. All the fun will be accompanied by music provided by DJ Rick Knight from Mix 97.7 at the stage on the corner of Main Street and Vineyard Ave., where Touch of Rhythm will play live from 5-8 p.m.

Vendors will offer a selection of gourmet edibles, crafts and jewelry, and local eateries will serve up plenty of festival fare, from shish kebobs and kettle corn to pretzels, nachos, hot dogs and pizza.