84th Library Fair honors Garth Hudson, Jay Wenk

Getting ready for the fair. (photo by Dion Ogust)

Getting ready for the fair. (photo by Dion Ogust)

Pure Fun is all around you. And it certainly will be on the grounds of the Woodstock Library on Saturday.

Pure Fun is the theme of the 84th annual Woodstock Library Fair, so there’s no excuse not to have any, with plenty of opportunities to partake in the festivities. “We’re only limited by space. We need more space for all our ideas,” said Michael Perkins, who has helped organize the fair for more than 20 years.

Things kick off at 9:45 a.m. with a children’s parade from the Upper Comeau parking lot down to Library Lane followed by a maypole dance on the library lawn at 10 a.m. Families can meet at 9:30 if they want to participate in the parade.

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The children’s parade was originally going to be a one-time affair to mark the 100th anniversary of the library’s opening, but children and families liked it so much, they ask each year for its return.

“Traditions start somehow and we thought we were going to do it for that 100th anniversary,” said Michael Hunt, vice president of the Friends of the Library, which organizes the fair each year.  “The kids love it because they’re the center of attention. Everyone’s looking at them.” DJ and host of Radio Unleashed Dave Leonard will host a dance party to keep the children in good spirits.

In keeping with tradition, the fair will honor two locals for their talents and contributions.

This year’s honorees are town Councilman and World War II veteran Jay Wenk and Garth Hudson organist and keyboardist for The Band. “We’re really thrilled. He’s the last member of The Band living in the area.” said Hunt. “We thought, let’s continue with somehow acknowledging the music aspect of Woodstock.”

The fair will honor Wenk for a “lifetime of activism and public service,” Hunt said.

Wenk will be honored at 11:45 a.m. and Hudson at 12:45 p.m.

Is there a chance Hudson might play for us? While Hunt isn’t quite sure, he has left open the possibility. Hudson has played with the Dharma Bums, who are set to hit the stage at 1 p.m., so maybe he’ll sit in for a few songs.

Hunt notes that it’s the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s first electric performance at the Newport Folk Festival, which is a perfect setting for young virtuoso Nick Spinetti, who will perform Dylan-inspired music at 3 p.m.

Along with all the tradition comes an exciting change that organizers hope will offer a better experience. “This year, we’re going to move the stage almost opposite to where it usually is against Lasher’s barn,” Hunt said, referring to the Lasher Funeral Home barn that was the usual backdrop. “It’s going to be facing West. You’ve got that little hill back there. People can just take a blanket and sit on the hill and just enjoy the music.” If you get in the mood to swing your hips, a dance floor will be set up in front of the stage.

New this year are some added attractions for the kids. A four-horse carousel will provide fun for children ages 2 to around 5. A 40-foot bounce house obstacle course will keep kids from 6 to 16 well-exercised. Hat making, face painting and other old-fashioned games will round out the more traditional activities.

Then of course there’s the food. As always, bring an empty belly because fine fare from many local eateries will delight your tastebuds. New this year is a food truck from Lekker Cafe in Stone Ridge supplying food, beer and wine. “You’ve got to bring your appetite because there’s so many choices,” Hunt said.

This year, Christine Varga will host an art gallery pop-up shop with many local artists featuring their works. “She’s invading Woodstock for one day only,” said Hunt, who is excited to see Varga return after the Woodstock gallery closed recently.

Back again this year are two fair traditions that took a break for several years. Beer and wine are back after a hiatus due to liability concerns. Last year, such libations were served without a hitch, so they’re back for good.

The other tradition making a return is the rummage sale. “That’s because of the generosity of everybody going through their closets and giving us stuff,” Hunt said. “I have probably 15 bags of clothes on my front porch right now. So, this week, we go through it all and it’s going to be a nice selection of used clothing.”

And of course, who can forget the Great Expectations Raffle? And this year’s Grand Prize is a blockbuster. “It’s the talk of the town right now,” Hunt said of the prize, which is four VIP passes to Night at the Museum. It’s a big sleepover party at the Museum of Natural History with exclusive tours, meals and other perks. Since the museum hosts the event several times a year, the winner gets to pick a date. “It’s the biggest prize I can remember,” Perkins said.

Another hot prize this year is an Elliott Landy photograph of The Band. Landy donated two prints. One will be raffled off Saturday while the other will be in an online auction to benefit the Friends. As always, raffle tickets are $1 each or $5 for 6.

“This is a party but we try to raise money for programming and everything to help out the library,” Hunt said.

The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. rain or shine. Admission is $2.

“We’re just looking for some sunshine. We get the sunshine, the people come and it’s very familiar to longtime residents or part-time residents or visitors,” Hunt said.

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