The Walkway over the Hudson and the Hudson Valley Rail-Trail were flooded with visitors this past weekend for their annual Walktoberfest, an outdoor celebration of local fare and farms as well as of the autumnal beauty of the Hudson Valley.
“People keep telling us how happy they are to be outside and to have an event to go to and something to do,” said Ken Morgan, a volunteer for the HVRT who was answering questions from festivalgoers and offering visitors freshly picked apples from local farms, including D. B. Orchards and W. B. Minard Orchards.
“We’ve had a beautiful day, and people are just enjoying being outside, getting a walk or bike ride on the rail-trail and being very respectful, wearing masks,” said another HVRT volunteer, Vera Lawrence.
The HVRT was bringing awareness to the portion of the abandoned rail trail that it has worked tirelessly to turn into a public linear park, answering questions, informing cyclists and pedestrians how best to share the nonmotorized thoroughfare, and promoting the local bounty. The Walktoberfest is a joint venture between HVRT and the Walkway over the Hudson State Park, the mile-long pedestrian bridge created by restoring the old railroad bridge over the Hudson River that had caught fire decades earlier. Both are open and free to the public.
A blend of locals and tourists enjoyed cider donuts, pictures with alpacas, handcrafted organic body products, fresh raw honey and live music, which included Gia Ness’ Tiny Bubbles performing ukulele music.
For Gillian Magean, 13, of Broomfield, New Jersey, it was her first time crossing the Walkway over the Hudson. “I loved it,” she said, waiting on line for cider donuts from Tantillo’s Farm in Gardiner. “The views were beautiful. It was nice to be outside and see the river.” What her favorite part of Walktoberfest? “The food!”
The event was billed as an “essential farmers’ market” intended to showcase area farms and specialty curated local products. These were spotlighted alongside artists and artisans who help make the Hudson Valley so rich, and in turn “allow participants to support local agribusinesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Elizabeth Waldstein, executive director of Friends of the Walkway. “We’re tremendously pleased to host this modified Walktoberfest on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail and west approach to Walkway over the Hudson. Working with state and local health officials, the Town of Lloyd and our partners with the HVRT and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, we are excited to take advantage of our significant open space to safely present this essential farmers’ market.”
There were people of all ages walking, cycling, scootering, dog-walking, baby-jogger-pushing and wheelchair-rolling up and down the Walkway and HVRT. “This is fabulous,” said Lisa Gieseler of Poughkeepsie, who was buying handmade pendants and cards from Priscilla DeConti, a Kingston-based artist who was selling her Zentangle designs (www.etsy.com/shop/prispreciousdesigns). “We need more of these type of community events in Poughkeepsie. It’s just so good to get out and walk and see all of these crafts and art and food and humans!”
Gieseler was accompanied by her two sons and her friend Tiffany Poellet and her son. All three boys were doing some form of school remotely, and the mothers were grateful for the opportunity to get them out of the house and away from their computer screens.
Artist, DeConti said it was her first time being able to attend an event and have a vending booth where she could sell her artwork. “I love being out here, and the people have been great. Tomorrow I’m going to ask my husband to stay a bit longer so I can go for a walk and see what everyone else is selling.” There was a blacksmith from Trenton doing live demonstrations of his metalwork, as well as sheep farmers, beekeepers, soapmakers and rescue-dog enthusiasts.
The event was sponsored in part by local businesses such as Radio Woodstock Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery and Apple Green Golf Course.