On July 16 and 17, Rosendale’s longest-running mega-block party will be back after a two-year pandemic hiatus. The festivities — which is to say, mainly music — run from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The Rosendale Street Festival’s six stages are strung along Main Street between Stewart’s, at Route 32, and the intersection of Keator Avenue. That stretch of Route 213 will be open to one-way traffic only on both days of the Festival from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m., after which it will be open to Festival vehicles only; so, plan alternate routes during that timeframe if you need to pass through.
Nobody remembers anymore what number to attach to this year’s Rosendale Street Festival. We know that the first one occurred in 1978: a birthday celebration that got out of hand for local celebrity “Uncle Willy” Guldy, who at that time was the owner of a legendary downtown dive bar called the Well. You may know Uncle Willy from his years of TV appearances as a mascot/superfan at Yankee games, resplendent in an Uncle Sam top hat and spangled cloak. A Kingstonian now, until recently he owned an Uptown tavern/eatery called Uncle Willy’s, and he still reliably shows up at the Artists’ Soapbox Derby when it runs.
The Festival continued annually into the ‘80s, lapsed for a number of years in the ‘90s and then was revived. The organizers of early events tried to get a mix of big-name musicians and local ones (Tiny Tim was among the performers one year, memorably), but in recent iterations, the emphasis has been entirely on boosting appreciation for the locally based music scene. “Local music is always what we are going after,” says Festival co-chair Carrie Wykoff, noting, “All of our musicians play for free.”
The event has some business sponsors, but is funded mainly by voluntary individual donations by attendees as they pass through the gates at either end of Main Street. That means that in a good year with favorable weather, there’s enough cash to cover all the logistical, technical and insurance costs, but not nearly enough to pay the bands. The musicians reliably step up anyway. Any “profit” left over gets donated in the form of scholarships to graduating seniors from local high schools.
After two years of not happening, and a delayed start to organizing due to the uncertainty of the public health situation, Rosendale Street Fest 2022 will be slightly scaled-down from peak years when there were eight stages and as many as 100 bands. “We were watching the pandemic and the numbers. Usually we start in August,” Wykoff explains. “The committee decided to wait until January, so everything was kind of condensed.” Still, 75 musical acts over two days offer a selection sure to please nearly anyone’s sonic tastes. Start times are staggered by the half-hour, allowing listeners to stroll from one stage to another and take in plenty of different performers.
On Saturday, Finding Alice starts at noon; Rose Stoller, Armedalite Rifles and Warren Sieme at 12:30 p.m.; the Damian Ecco Band and Grampfather at 1 p.m.; the Sidemen Blues Band, Little Rock and Tim Hunter at 1:30; Under Culture and Talula! at 2; the Ridgeline Ramblers, Jimmy Eppart & Co. and Joshua Kaine at 2:30; the Wild Irish Roses and Todd Baker at 3; Flash Company, Kitty Fisher’s Army and Xoch at 3:30; Rice & Beans and Painted Blue Sky at 4; Frenchy and the Punk, iS and Pete Santora at 4:30; Ramona Lane and Spaghetti Eastern Music at 5; Still, Shaken and Stirred, Ivory Mosaic and BobKat at 5:30; Los Doggies and Pitchfork Militia at 6; the B2s, Red Goat Vandals and the Collectors at 6:30; Whoah!! and Gus Mancini’s Sonic Soul Band at 7; the Dylan McCarthy Trio, Firehouse and Marji Zintz at 7:30; and headliners Lara Hope and the Ark-Tones at 8 p.m.
On Sunday, the WellDiggers play at noon; the Deep Forest, Rebel Souls and Hey Bub at 12:30; the Warp/the Weft and the Victoria Levy & Beki Brindle Band at 1; Gah-bé, Pour la Terre and callie mackenzie at 1:30; Madarka and the RQ Project at 2; Sheila & the Deep End, Wally Nichols and Tal Naccarato at 2:30; Kate Prascher & the Burning Light Band and El Front at 3 p.m.; the D Squared Band, Kurt Henry & Dog Knows and Seth Davis at 3:30; Belmont/Anderson Brazilian/American Jazzcruise and the Robert Cahill Band at 4; Journey Blue Heaven, the Amrod Brothers Band and Too Lazy Boys at 4:30; the Rosendale Brass Band and Social Club and What? at 5; M’Bollo, Circus of Wolves and Hali Hammer & Randy Berge at 5:30; and Sarah Perrotta at 6 p.m. The full listing of which bands are setting up where can be found on the Rosendale Street Festival website at https://rosendalestreetfestival.org/2022-schedule.
But wait, there’s more! The Canal Lock Stage at the western end of town is the traditional site for kid-friendly music and activities. Fre Atlast will be organizing her Multi-Generational Drum Circle there at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. My Kingston Kids will host crafts activities from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday; the crafts will return from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Seed Underground will host a Dance Party at the Canal Lock from 4 to 7 on Saturday and 4 to 6 on Sunday. Also for kids, the Redwing Blackbird Theater will present live puppet shows at its own storefront at 3, 4 and 6 p.m. on Saturday.
The Rosendale Theatre gets in on the act, as well. On the big screen, in air-conditioned comfort, you can watch short films from the Woodstock Film Festival Youth Lab at 3 p.m. and from Hudsy at 4 p.m. both days. There will also be special live performances on the Theatre’s front porch: an act yet to be announced on Saturday at 5 p.m., and the Rosendale Ukulele Group at 2 p.m. and POOK at 5 p.m., both on Sunday.
All this entertainment is absolutely free. The street will also be lined with crafts and other vendors, “the best food trucks in the Hudson Valley,” per Wykoff, and various informational booths. The Festival will operate two beer gardens sponsored by Arrowood Farms, at the food truck court and near the Willow Kiln stage. The food and drink establishments lining the street will be offering specials to entice you inside as well.
While parking is in short supply within walking distance of the Festival, UCAT shuttle buses will run continuously to the site from parking lots at the Bloomington Firehouse and the former Tillson School to the east entrance and from the Brookside School, the Rondout Municipal Center and the Binnewater Kiln lot to the west entrance. Bicycle racks are provided at either end of Main Street, for those who wish to arrive via the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.
According to Wykoff, “Everyone’s excited for the Festival to come back. Everyone has missed it.” Ah, but will Uncle Willy turn up this year? She smiles and makes a note to herself: “I’m going to give him a buzz.”