Wallkill River Festival held in New Paltz

Last Saturday afternoon The Hudson River Trio and Friends entertained the crowd gathered at the Walkill River Festival in New Paltz. The Wallkill River Trio are Jim Sullivan, Pete Conklin and Jeff Anzavino with friends Evelyn Schneider and Steve O’Shea. (Photo by Lauren Thomas) 

The Wallkill River Watershed Alliance held its second annual Wallkill River Festival last Saturday at the Open Space Institute’s new River-to-Ridge trailhead on Springtown Road in New Paltz. Throughout the year, most of the alliance’s activities focus on scientific research, data collection and advocacy, punctuated regularly by volunteer cleanup and streambank restoration days. But this Festival was all about getting regular folks “down by the riverside” to remind one another what it is that needs rescuing, why and how.

Frank Benedetto works for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Fisheries Unit in New Paltz. Here he is holding a common carp netted from the Wallkill River in New Paltz. Last Saturday morning several kinds of fish were netted out of the river in order to educate Wallkill River Festival goers about the varieties that live there. (Photo by Lauren Thomas) 

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The festival opened with a blessing of the river by Vincent Mann, Turtle Clan chief of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation. Three local bands provided entertainment. The festival also featured hands-on educational and craft activities and a silent auction of local watershed-themed art and gift cards donated by many local businesses.

Festivalgoers made and launched rice-paper boats to carry native seeds down the river, explored nature along the river with Wild Earth, got the latest update on the health of the Wallkill from the DEC, the alliance and Riverkeeper, biked the new trail or paddled the river via human-powered vehicles supplied by New Paltz Bikes/Kayaking Tours, played the Wallkill River Trivia game and discovered ways we can all reduce harmful impacts on the river.

Bridget Lillis searches for tiny living creatures in a sample of river water. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Matthew Friday came up with an interesting project. He taught kids to make mulberry paper boats decorated with black walnut dye and filled with chicory seeds. Periwinkle blue chicory is a good reinforcer of riverbanks. The rice paper boats were sealed with wax to keep them afloat. Pictured are (front to back) Dahlia Davis, Bridget Lillis and Matthew Friday setting the boats to float up the river. (Photo by Lauren Thomas) 

Jim Gordon and Amy Kletter. (Photo by Lauren Thomas) 

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