The Saugerties Mum Festival: A decades-long tradition

The Mum Court at the Mum Bowl, held the day before the Festival. (Photo by Phyllis McCabe)

Mums line the path through Seamon Park. (This and below photos by David Gordon)

The annual Saugerties Mum festival persevered despite almost continuous rain last Sunday, October 6. While the crowds may have been diminished, a continuous flow of people came to admire the flowers, hear the band, and patronize the vendors in Seamon Park. Many of the planned activities took place despite the rain, The band played, Noah’s Ark Nursery students led the pledge of allegiance. Local leaders spoke. Hope Farm’s larger animals were on display in their truck, but the outdoor petting zoo was rained out.

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A county proclamation read by legislator Mary Wawro called the festival “one of the significant events in Saugerties and all of Ulster County.” “As this wonderful gift of nature beckons to all of us, throughout Ulster County’s most verdant season,” it continued, “therefore I, Tracey Bartels, chairman of the Ulster County Legislature, declare Sunday, October 6, 2019 as Saugerties Chrysanthemum Festival Day.”

County executive Pat Ryan, who spoke, said the festival “kind of says it all of what Saugerties is all about. The weather is not ideal, but all of you being out here really recognizes the beauty of this community that we have … To have these young people reminding us of what community is about says a lot about what Saugerties is about, and what Ulster County is about.”

Mum Queen Jessica Bucci, center, with her court. Comfort Akpan is to her left, and Abby Bravo is to her right.

Supervisor Fred Costello offered mayor Bill Murphy’s apologies for not being able to attend because of a prior engagement. 

“We are known as the Festival Community, throughout Ulster County and throughout the Hudson Valley,” Costello said. “The Mum Festival goes back decades. It’s a decades-long tradition. We celebrate our past; we celebrate our present by being here, and our future. These young ladies [Mum Queen and court] represent our future. I know each one of them. They are gifted and talented and beautiful, and they will represent our community for years to come in a positive way, just as folks have done for generations. This [the festival] represents the spirit of our community, so thank you all for coming and enjoy the day.”

Tina VanVoorhis paints Taylor Dillon’s face.

No one was sitting in the chairs provided for the listeners at the Saugerties Community Band site, but customers and vendors at the tents for crafts sales listened to the band playing a selection of marches and popular tunes.

Village parks, buildings and grounds caretaker George Terpening said planting mums began in August with about 500 plants. They should survive the first few frosts of the season and “with a little luck, and some warm weather, they may hold out until November,” he said.

A heart composed of chrysanthemums greets visitors to the Saugerties Mum Festival in Seamon Park.

Katie Cushman displays her paintings, protected from the rain by plastic sheets.

Paintings by students at Kristy Bishop’s Studio on display.

Richard Rose conducts The Saugerties Community Concert Band.

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