See 100 bands in two days at the Rosendale Street Festival

(Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Rosendale likes to tout itself as the Festival Town, committed to a packed agenda of public events celebrating everything from Beltane, pickles, vintage cars and environmental sustainability to mountain biking, independent cinema, chili and zombies. There are several annual music festivals, including Rosendale Rocks the River, but the granddaddy of them all is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year: the two-day, eight-stage Rosendale Street Festival, which returns this Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22, with more than 100 bands participating at last count.

Peter Head of Pitchfork Militia (Lauren Thomas)

Although in its earliest incarnation in the late ’70s and ’80s, the Festival strove to bring in national “name” acts, the new improved version – reinstated after a multiyear hiatus in the ’90s – has an avowed mission “to help support and expose people to the local music of our region.” The festival takes that focus seriously, spotlighting the wealth of talent in our vicinity, playing music in practically every genre imaginable. You’ll likely recognize at least a few of the names on deck for this weekend, Los Doggies, Amy Fradon, Kurt Henry, Pitchfork Militia, David Kraai and Yard Sale among them. Lara Hope and the Ark-Tones are the featured mainstage closing act on Saturday night, and the Canal Lock Stage at the west end of town is the place to find awesome kid-rock bands like Dog on Fleas and Ratboy Jr. A craft tent with ongoing hands-on activities for littl’uns will be set up right next door.

The Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band and puppets from Redwing Blackbird Theater parade down Main Street at the Rosendale Street Fest in 2015. (Lauren Thomas)

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Rosendale is a small community with a “downtown” only a few blocks long, winding along between the foot of Joppenbergh Mountain and the Rondout Creek. The stages are set far enough apart for the sound not to bleed over noticeably, but close enough together that you can wander from end to end to catch whatever act tickles your fancy without getting footsore. New this year will be a stage at the Red Brick Tavern. In between you’ll find lots else to do, checking out street vendors, joining a drum circle, quaffing a pint at a beer garden or munching a tasty walkable snack. A cool retreat right in the midst of the action is the Rosendale Theatre, whose stage will host both live theatrical performances and screenings of short films made by local youth.

Little ones beat the heat at the Rosendale Street Festival courtesy of the cooling spray provided by the Rosendale Fire Department. (Lauren Thomas)

Main Street Rosendale (Route 213) closes to automobile traffic from 10:30 a.m. both days. The music starts at 12 noon and continues until 9 p.m. on Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the Rosendale Street Festival is free, but donations are encouraged ($5 per person suggested) to help keep the event going from year to year.

While parking is in short supply within walking distance of the festival, UCAT shuttle buses run continuously to the site from parking lots at the Bloomington Firehouse, the former Tillson School, the Brookside School, the Rondout Municipal Center and the Iron Mountain Kiln lot. Bicycle racks are provided at either end of Main Street, for those who wish to arrive via the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. For driving directions, a full schedule of performers and other details, visit www.rosendalestreetfestival.org.

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