The Gardiner Day Committee is gearing up for this year’s annual Gardiner Day celebration to be held at Majestic Park on Saturday, September 12. As always, the event will be free to attend, thanks to the all-volunteer group of Gardiner residents who have made that happen for more than two decades now.
Fundraising for the next year’s event begins almost as soon as Gardiner Day is over, with the committee putting much time and effort over the course of the year into raising funds to pay for the costs of putting on the next fair. As longtime committee member Jewell Turner points out, since Gardiner doesn’t have a Chamber of Commerce to get behind community events, “There wouldn’t be a Gardiner Day without us.”
Gardiner Day was established 26 years ago, the idea of then-town supervisor Mike Moran, says committee member Carol Ann M. Lohrman, who was the Town of Gardiner bookkeeper back then. The first Gardiner Day was a success, the second year was rained out, and by the third year Moran found it was really too much for one person to organize on his own, Lohrman explains. Moran suggested a committee of town volunteers might be formed to continue the event, and that’s exactly what happened. As a member of the volunteer committee from the start, Lohrman is now its longest serving member and treasurer for the group.
The Gardiner Day Committee meets on the second Monday of each month. “And we always need new ideas and new members,” says Turner, who joined the group in 1996 and functions as the committee’s secretary. The other members of the Gardiner Day Committee are Jaynie Marie Aristeo, Carol O’Byrne, Judy Bacon, Sharon DeMatteo, Cindy Dates, Eileen and Stewart Glenn, Barbara Meszaros, Jackie Wild, Kathy DeLano, Patrick Murphy and town supervisor Carl Zatz.
Over the years, Gardiner Day has evolved from its origins as a small business expo to what it is today: a daylong community festival with live music and performers, children’s activities, food and craft vendors, a pie bake-off, pony rides, karate and dance school exhibitions, a kids’ craft tent and more. “Gardiner Day is a lot of work to put on, but when it’s over, you feel good about it,” says committee member Carol O’Byrne, who joined the group several years ago. “The entire family can go for free; think about what it costs to go to a county fair. You can go to Gardiner Day and not spend a dime.”
The Gardiner Day Committee raises funds to put on the event through activities like the upcoming trip to Saratoga Raceway (sold out), a wine tasting and silent auction held in March at Robibero Winery in Gardiner and the annual Easter plant sale held outside the Gardiner firehouse. The group maintains a Facebook page that can be accessed for up-to-date information on future events.
The committee has evolved over the years, too, carrying out fundraising and activities for the benefit of the Gardiner community in addition to those undertaken to support Gardiner Day. The group sponsors the annual Christmas tree lighting and caroling in the hamlet each December and the Easter egg hunt in Majestic Park every spring. They hold an April fundraiser, “Women Helping Women,” that benefits women dealing with domestic violence. And the committee holds frequent blood drives that attract approximately 30 donors each time, says O’Byrne, who coordinates with the American Red Cross to hold the drives at Town Hall. Considering that each pint of blood donated can save three lives, she adds, the amount collected does substantial good.
“And people like our blood drives because we’re the only ones who offer homemade cookies to the donors,” says committee member Jaynie Marie Aristeo with a smile.
“It gives you a good feeling to give back to the community,” says O’Byrne. “That’s why we do it.”