Ten reasons to attend the 63rd annual Elting Memorial Library Fair (with historic photos from fairs past)

In 2009, Stewart Glenn and childhood sweetheart Eileen Gulbrandsen-Glenn cut quite a rug on the asphalt of the library’s parking lot.

Newspapers capture history in the making. If they bear witness to it long enough, they eventually become part of the fabric of that history. Over the past several decades, thanks to the dedication and skill of our staff photographer Lauren Thomas, the New Paltz Times has amassed a visual chronicle of community events that happen year after year, the places where they occur, the people who bring them into being. Once each month, we plan to take a deep dive into our extensive visual archives and piece together a longitudinal portrait of aspects of our community that have persisted or recurred regularly over time. Our readers will be able to see what has changed and what has not. Nostalgia for our shared past, confidence in what endures, hope for our future are all aspects of what we hope to find, exploring together. And now, the story behind the Elting Memorial Library Fair, captured in pictures.

The 63rd annual Elting Memorial Library Fair will be held Saturday, September 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a rain-or-shine event, with most activities held under tents in the parking lot behind the library. Admission is free, but a $10 early bird fee allows entry to the book sale at 8 a.m. And while the fair is a one-day event, the book sale will continue the following day, Sunday, September 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


The Elting Library Fair is made possible by hundreds of volunteers who pitch in to provide this annual get-together for friends and neighbors. Several years back, the fair was moved from July to September, to take advantage of better weather at this time of year. The change has worked out very well, according to Paul Edlund, longtime library trustee and chair for the 2019 Elting Memorial Library Fair. 

Four year-olds Freya Wouters and Sophia Schelino dance to the music of the Horned Angels at the Elting Library Fair in 2015.

“It’s just a lovely outdoor fair at the perfect time of the year,” he says. “I think it’s one of the nicest ways the library has to outreach to the entire community. And people come from all over; they love browsing the book sales, we have a great flea market, great food, vendors and lots of good music and activities.”

One major draw has always been the big raffle. It accounts for about a third of the day’s proceeds, which go toward programs and items the regular budget can’t stretch to accommodate. More than 100 local businesses have already donated items or gift certificates this year to be raffled off, and the winner need not even be present when the winning tickets are drawn. Raffle tickets may, in fact, be purchased in advance on the library’s website at www.eltinglibrary.org.

Here, then, are ten reasons to attend the 63rd annual Elting Memorial Library Fair on Saturday.

1 The big book sale: The book tent will feature tables filled to overflowing with a wide variety of more than 10,000 gently-used books, all neatly and painstakingly organized by category for shopping ease. And as previously mentioned, the book sale does continue the next day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. People often express concern about what happens to the last of the books left unsold on Sunday, but rest assured they are picked up to be redistributed in some fashion or recycled. 

2 The big raffle and silent auction: Visit the raffle tent to purchase tickets at a cost of $1 each, 12 for $10 or 24 for $20. Items to be won include jewelry, artwork and designer sunglasses along with a number of gift certificates for local shops and restaurants, entertainment packages, personal care and health and fitness experiences. The grand prize in the raffle is a mid-week, two-night stay for two at Mohonk Mountain House. A complete list of all the prizes and donors will be available at the library and at the fair. The raffle tent also displays items donated for the silent auction, which may be bid on throughout the course of the fair. This year’s offerings include the opportunity to get trivia or game show advice at lunch with New Paltz native and Jeopardy! champion, Francois Barcomb. 

3 The flea market: The flea market tent has the eclectic selection of goods one would expect from items donated by New Paltz residents, with everything priced to sell. Vinyl albums, housewares and home décor items, vintage toys and holiday collectibles are just a few of the bargains that will be found. 

4 Children’s activities: In addition to having their own book tent, kids can take part in a variety of activities organized by Elting’s Library Youth Advisory Group. The Kidz on the Go playscape will return, where children can enjoy rock climbing, mesh ball pools, foam forests, web crawls and a ten-foot slide. Youthful attendees may also paint a pumpkin, get their own faces painted and create a print design. The lollypop game will return, as well, with many prizes to be won. And for parents as much as the kids, the children’s toy tent will hold a treasure trove of gently-used toys available to purchase.

5 Refreshments: Cafe tables are set up for sit-down eating and refreshments are available at nominal cost, donated by local farms and businesses. Look for sausage-and-pepper sandwiches and fresh quinoa salad as lunch options. Volunteers will cook up hamburgers, veggie burgers and hot dogs, courtesy of Abdul Joulani of Jack’s Meats, and ice cream has been donated by the local Stewart’s. The Cake Artist is donating cookies and pastries, with Wallkill View Farm bringing the donuts. Cider and apples will be supplied by Dressel Farms and Apple Hill Farm, with additional items donated by Freihofer’s, ShopRite and Tops. Coffee will come from Starbucks.

6 Live music: The talent line-up at this year’s fair includes classically-trained guitarist, Jim Bacon, playing blues and rag guitar. Wind and Stone is a local group that performs standards, rock and originals, and Kurt Henry is a singer/songwriter who has performed with his band in many venues over many years. The Olive Quintet is a woodwind ensemble who have performed at Elting Library, and Jeff Pfeffer, local guitarist and ukulele player, will perform a variety of standards and novelty tunes. Pfeffer oversees a local ukulele group, the Ulster Ukuleleans, and, as it happens, is also married to Elting Library’s children’s librarian, Bonnie Pfeffer, who organizes the jewelry sale at the fair.

7 Costume jewelry sale: Bonnie Pfeffer received a substantial number of donations from the community this year, says trustee Paul Edlund, which bodes well for the jewelry sale being a very active booth at the fair this year, he says. Unexpected finds are definitely a possibility, whether contemporary or vintage, and available pieces run the gamut of styles.

8 The plant sale: It’s always worth checking out the fair’s plant sale, run by the New Paltz Garden Club. Many of their members contribute home-grown plants available at good prices, and Wallkill View Farms donates a selection of their colorful, seasonal mums.

9 Craft and community vendors: What would a fair be without artisanal craftspeople and community vendors? New Paltz Karate Academy will be on hand, as will Green Mountain Energy, Deep Earth Designs Pottery and The Right Hands for Every-Body, who offer foot massage and reflexology.

Public service tablers will include the League of Women Voters, New Paltz Fire Department and the New Paltz Village Building Department, all ready to answer any questions.

10 The opportunity to support the library and thus, the community: The first Elting Memorial Library Fair was held in 1956. It raised $439. Another fair was held the following year, with profits nearly doubling to $833. These days, the fair brings in some $30,000, and all of it is essential to stretch the library budget beyond what the tax levy allows for. All of those interesting programs offered by the library and additional enrichment items made available to the community would not be possible without a fundraiser like the Library Fair. Attending the fair is a vote of confidence for the library, securing its continued place in the heart of the village (and the hearts of those who use it).

In 2011, A young man in a golden top hat eagerly waits for a double decker chocolate ice cream cone scooped by library fair volunteer and Lion’s Club member Joe Braidt.

Susan Stessin-Cohn and Diana at the jewelry booth in 2005.

Ruth Elwell and Sally Rhoads volunteer at a previous Elting Memorial Library Fair.

Maria, Theresa and Jackie Cordovano at the Elting Memorial Library Fair in 2013.

The Elting Memorial Library Fair make-up booth in 1958. (Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection)

Volunteers at a previous Elting Memorial Library Fair.

Volunteers at a previous Elting Memorial Library Fair.

Raymundo Jackson helps out at a previous Elting Memorial Library Fair.

Carole Ford was at the annual New Paltz Library Fair to register people to vote last Saturday.

Millie Hague at a previous Elting Memorial Library Fair.

Shari Lynn Goldstein searches through vintage magazines at the Elting Memorial Library Fair last Saturday.

Elting Memorial Library Fair planners in 1960. (Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection)

There is one comment

Comments are closed.