Saugerties gears up for Mum Fest

Volunteers with the town of Saugerties’ Parks and Recreation Department prepare a flower bed for the planting of mums. (photo by Robert Ford)

With the 52nd Mum Festival just two weeks away, gardeners throughout the village of Saugerties and portions of the town are cleaning out flower beds to make room for the colorful fall plants for which the festival is named. Seamon Park, site of the October 8 fest, is the epicenter of the seasonal activity.

George Terpening, supervisor of the village’s parks, buildings and grounds department, and his workers have planted more than 1200 new mums this year. Many are already in bloom, but others should be in full blossom by October 8.

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According to Mark Smith, the president of the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce, the annual Mum Fest began in 1965 when “the Saugerties Rotary Club and other local citizens proclaimed a Chrysanthemum Festival in order to add awareness and appreciation for the beautiful land, which had been deeded to the Village of Saugerties in 1909 by John Seamon for use as a breathing space open and free at all times to every person.”

Kathy Lachemann, an original founding member, met with a local weather organization to review records to research the weekend of the year most likely to have the best weather for the event. It was determined that the first weekend of October had the most fair-weather days. The festival is traditionally held the first Sunday of October.

The Chrysanthemum Festival continues as one of the major fall events of Saugerties.

A varied and beautiful display of the park and its breathtaking view of the Catskill Mountains has been achieved through the continued cooperation of a wide range of citizen organizations who work together each year to make the festival both an appreciation and a celebration of Seamon Park.

Without the inspiration of the founding members, many of them no longer with us,  the Mum Festival is an annual success. Donations from residents and visitors make the purchase of the new mums possible each year. Sizable annual donations are made by the Kiwanis Club, and the Blue Katz Club. The Blue Katz sell food at the annual fest, and the money they make is donated back to Seamon Park for the purchase of mums for the following year. Anyone who would like to donate to the fund to purchase more mums for the festival can do so by sending a check made out to the Mum Fest to village hall at 43 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY 12477.

The festival committee which runs the annual event will hold its annual art show. The American Legion Post 72 color guard, along with kids from the Noah’s Ark Nursery School, and The Royals, a singing group made up of youth from the Saugerties Boys and Girls Club, will lead the opening ceremonies. New this year, the Saugerties Community Band and local musicians Katie Hoffstader and Hudson’s Crew will provide entertainment throughout the day.

Brian Robinson and his wildlife show will be back, along with a petting zoo provided by Michael’s Farm.

The Mum Queen and her court, students from Saugerties High School selected at a pep rally prior to the annual Mum Fest football game the day before the festival at Seamon Park, will also be giving out mum corsages and flowers provided by the Saugerties Society of Little Gardens.

The town Buildings and Grounds Department has planted dozen of mums at the Cantine sports complex. Finally, individual residents through the village and town get into the spirit of the fest by planting mums on their properties. All in all, the Mum Fest is quite a seasonal community show, one of the real prides of Saugerties.

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