It was a full day of family-friendly activities and community camaraderie last Saturday at Majestic Park in Gardiner, as the 28th annual Gardiner Day went off without a hitch under sunny skies above. Skydivers soared overhead like superheroes on their way back to Earth, with a bird’s eye view of the considerable crowd gathered in the park to enjoy a late-summer day in each other’s company.
The event began with a flag raising ceremony conducted by Gardiner’s volunteer fire department, with the National Anthem sung by hometown talent, Maddy Leitner. The Ulster County Sheriff’s Department and Poughkeepsie police K-9 unit were also there along with state troopers.
Most of the activities at Gardiner Day are for kids and their families. The Gardiner Library offered a story walk, with pages from a children’s book laminated and mounted on stakes inserted into the ground for kids to read as they walk. There was a petting zoo and pony and hay rides from the Goodnow family farm, as well as balloon twisting, face-painting, henna tattoos and a crafts tent where kids could make sand art and other creations. Southern Ulster Rotary Club brought a bouncy house, and Gardiner’s Sunflower Art Studios, too, was on hand, with activities meant to encourage the kind of youthful creativity they offer at their business on Route 44/55, which includes the wellness retreat center, Stone Wave Yoga.
Adults could visit the Country Living tent with a small farmer’s market and the business tent sponsored by Southern Ulster Chamber of Commerce and Rotary, where representatives of local businesses were on hand. A few classic cars were on display, too, including a GT40 owned by Eric Johnson. Live music was performed by New Paltz Rock.
The eclectic schedule for the day included the opportunity to have a likeness portrayed by caricaturist Steve Gladstone and hair braiding done by Main Street’s Hair Chalet.
The food tent offered hot dogs and hamburgers along with sausage and peppers, pizza, fried dough, Italian ices and ice cream and coffee and cold beverages.
Skateboarders from Sacred in New Paltz did demos and competed at the park’s skateboarding facility, and a local club conducted disc golf demos at the park’s course.
The basketball courts hosted artistry and fitness, with demos from Fighting Spirit karate studio, New Paltz Karate and the newly launched Take the Leap Dance Studio in Gardiner, whose talented dancers offered two sets of performances highlighting tap, contemporary dance, ballet and jazz.
New this year was a contest to “Name the Topiary Creature,” an effort to give a name to the Ireland Corners landscape dragon sculpted by Gardiner-based environmental artist Keith Buesing. No word yet as of press time what the winning name is.
Also new this year was a voluntary food drive. Attendees were asked to bring along a nonperishable food item for the Helping Hands Food Bank at St. Charles Borromeo Church in town.
Gardiner Day is always free of charge to attend, thanks to the efforts of the all-volunteer Gardiner Day Committee, whose members hold fundraising activities year round to ensure free admission for the annual event. 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.
Gardiner Day was established nearly three decades ago, the idea of then-Town Supervisor Mike Moran. The first Gardiner Day was a success, the second year was rained out, and by the third year it was clear the event was going to take off and be too much for one person to handle on their own. Moran suggested a committee of town volunteers might be formed to continue the event, and that’s exactly what happened and what has continued ever since.
The committee also 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,” with proceeds raised helping women dealing with domestic violence. And the committee holds frequent blood drives that take place at town hall.
For more information about Gardiner Day Committee activities and ways to help support the group, visit them on Facebook.