Woodstock Library Fair returns for the 87th year

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Friends of the Library are gearing up for the 87th Annual Library Fair, the summer tradition for folks of all ages held on the front lawn.

It all kicks off Saturday, July 28, with a children’s parade at 9:45 a.m. from Comeau Drive led by singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer, who is also one of the honorees.

The Library Fair runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The theme for this year’s festivities is Forever Wild, which has a couple meanings.


“Just look around at the natural beauty of Woodstock, Ulster County, Catskills, Hudson Valley. That’s why people have been coming here forever,” said fair co-organizer and Friends President Michael Hunt. “I love that that’s enshrined in the New York State Constitution that the land is forever wild. So we were riffing off of that.” The other inspiration is the artistic spirit of Woodstock, Hunt said. The fence along Tinker Street will be decorated with portraits of the wild animals that call Woodstock home.

For the first time, Library Lane will be closed to traffic, something the town suggested, said Hunt.  “We’re going to make it like a promenade, a midway on Library Lane. It will be closed for just the hours of the fair. It’s just going to be a lovely little pedestrian pocket,” he said. “No one  will have to worry about cars at all.”

Several nonprofit organizations will line the promenade, sharing their ideas as fairgoers walk past them. A new feature  on the promenade is interactive art, where people can grab a marker and add to drawings on sandwich boards.

Also new this year is a storyteller tent where kids of all ages can take a break in the shade and take in a story. Earlier in the week, children took part in a Crankie workshop where they learned how to come up with ideas and create moving picture scroll shows. Their creations will debut in the storyteller tent.

And some favorites return, like the Wish Tree. “Write down a wish or intention and it’s beautiful to look at all the wishes at the end of the day. Some are just silly and some are so serious, wishing for the health and well-being of loved ones,” Hunt said.

And of course fairgoers can enjoy the bountiful and delicious selection of food donated by many restaurants in town. And the Lekker truck is back, serving beer and wine.

“Because who doesn’t enjoy a nice, fresh drink on a lovely, sunny afternoon I hope,” Hunt said.

The White Elephant tent returns after a brief hiatus, featuring collectibles, antiques, and some contemporary items. This year, artists will also be selling prints from the tent.

The big tent will once again feature great bargains on used and vintage clothing. Volunteers worked tirelessly sorting through all the clothing donations to make it available for sale this Saturday.

And of course the book barn will be open for what is usually the biggest book sale of the year.

More affordable for families

A couple years ago, fair organizers started offering a wristband so kids could take advantage of all the attractions like the bouncy house, water slide, face painting, hat making and virtual reality goggles for one price. And this year, it’s an even better value. Wristbands for up to two children are $10. Three or more children is $15 total.

“We want to make sure everybody can enjoy everything we have to offer,” Hunt said.

Then there’s the Great Expectations raffle, a staple of the fair. More than 40 prizes donated by area merchants and artists include a getaway for two at Onteora Mountain House with dinner for two at Red Onion, two tickets to a Midnight Ramble at Levon Helm Studios featuring Lee Ann Womack, Woodstock Daytripper with a magical mystery bicycle tour and brunch at Cucina, and an original Sonny Rollins portrait signed by Rollins and artist Rob Gahagan. 

Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20.

This year’s honorees

Amanda Palmer will be honored at 11 a.m., followed by lesbian activist, author, folk singer and songwriter Alix Dobkin at noon and former town Justice, Rescue Squad member and Family of Woodstock volunteer Frank Engel at 2 p.m.

The music lineup is as follows:

10 a.m.: Maypole dance and party with Amanda Palmer

11 a.m.: Woodstock folk singer Norm Wennet

Noon: Pop/Punk band Ramona Lane

1 p.m.: Local favorites the Dharma Bums featuring Rock/Psychedelic/Raga tunes with frontman Phil Void

2 p.m.: Urban country garage music with Les Bicyclettes Blanches & The Robotics

3 p.m.: Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tracy Bonham

4 p.m.: Roots-folk with Mister Roper featuring Eric Squindo and Rick Schneider

Fair proceeds benefit Friends of the Library, a nonprofit volunteer organization that helps fund the many programs and services offered at the library.

“We’re the wish fulfillment society,” Hunt said of the Friends’ role in helping the library.

The fair runs July 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. Admission is a $2 suggested donation.

Library Fair welcomes Secret City

Featured throughout the fair is a collaboration with the Secret City Art Revival, a four-day festival of art and community.

“We know from all the current controversies how spirited and passionate people are around here and they are with their art as well, so we wanted to celebrate that,” Hunt said.  “So it just seemed like a natural fit, sharing the weekend with Secret City. So they are going to take over the old laundromat site for the day.”

From 1 to 4 p.m., Linda Mary Montano, Nina Isabelle and Jennifer Zackin will participate in an interactive performance called Whistle Portraits where the audience is invited to participate.

From noon to 6 p.m., fairgoers can engage in various forms of interactive art, including drawing on sandwich boards and checking out Michael Hunt’s Lyrical Signage by the music stage.

“We’re going to have pieces of visual art with just one line of lyric from each of our musical performers, and they’re going to be decorated around the stage,” Hunt said. “The intention is that synchronicity when you hear and read the same words at the same exact time.”

The Secret City Revival begins Friday, July 27 at 6 p.m. with a kickoff party at the Byrdcliffe Barn, 485 Upper Byrdcliffe Road.

Several events are scheduled throughout town including Mountain View Studio, Andy Lee Field, the Comeau field, Kleinert/James Center, Mower’s Field and WAAM. The revival concludes July 29 with a processional from Byrdcliffe Theater to Andy Lee Field at noon, followed by a Secret City Singers concert at 2 p.m. featuring Amanda Palmer and Rebel Girls.

Check thesecretcity.org for a full schedule.