Have a picnic and enjoy the Woodstock Library Fair 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, July 23 on the front lawn of the building at 5 Library Lane. After all, that’s the theme for the 91st annual festivities, inspired this year by the 1924 George Bellows painting, “The Picnic,” set on the shore of Cooper Lake.
This is the fair’s second year in a row after last year’s return. The COVID-19 pandemic forced it into hiatus in 2020 and last year was sort of a rebuilding year to get everyone used to having the annual event again.
The usual fair staples everyone counts on each year are back again, including the big sale in the book barn, the Great Expectations raffle, music all day and many children’s activities.
Back when it began, the annual fair was the library’s primary source of revenue and it counted on the proceeds to continue to operate. Thanks to the establishment of the library district in the late 1980s, that is no longer the case, but the Friends of the Library decided to carry on the tradition of having the yearly party everyone has come to expect and love. The suggested $2 donation for entry, raffle tickets, a percentage of food sales and another small fee for the kids’ attractions all go toward filling in funding gaps and giving the taxpayers a little break.
Things are a bit different this year since the library can’t borrow the usual space from Lasher Funeral Home because the property is for sale, but the same attractions you’ve come to know and love will still be there.
Fairgoers will choose from a broad selection of food that will be from trucks lined along Library Lane instead of on the front lawn.
Once again this year, the stage will be at the corner of Tinker Street and Library Lane instead of being tucked on the side of the library.
As you’re walking down Library Lane to satisfy your appetite and grab a beer or glass of wine, be sure to check out Non-Profits Row where you can learn about different advocacy and aid organizations.
Returning this year is the massive selection of used clothing and this time, shoppers can fill a paper bag and will pay by the pound.
Richard Fusco makes a return as the fair’s announcer after taking last year off to enjoy the festivities with his grandchild. Fusco, former Radio Woodstock, 100.1 FM general manager and one of the station’s original staffers who now works on special projects, has been making announcements including enticements to get people to buy Great Expectations raffle tickets, for years.
And speaking of the raffle, prizes include a Woodstock weekend getaway at the Onteora Mountain House in Boiceville, dinner for two at the reopened and reimagined Bear Cafe in the Bearsville Center complex and a Friends of the Library picnic basket full of goodies.
And of course, who could forget a longtime tradition of the fair to honor artists, volunteers and organizations who have contributed to the community.
This year, honorees include photographer Elliott Landy, the Woodstock Rescue Squad and the board members of the Table at Woodstock — Kate Camara, Anthony Heaney, Michael Holt, Emily Sherry and Allie Whittaker — who provide meals to those less fortunate.
Honorees will be feted beginning at 11:15 a.m.
“We wanted to just acknowledge the rescue squad and maybe by acknowledging them help encourage a crowd of people to volunteer. Maybe this is right for you. We need people over there,” fair director Michael Hunt said.
Past honorees include Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Woodstock resident John Sebastian, jazz legend Sonny Rollins, The Band keyboardist Garth Hudson, the late congressman Maurice Hinchey, businessman and library donor Ralph Goneau and many others.
For the kids, the ever-popular bounce castle makes a return, as does the water slide, a welcome respite from the expected heat.
Kids can make their own designs at the hat making table. Art packets will be available for children to make creations either on the lawn or take home and use at their leisure.
The children will mark the beginning of the fair with the parade down Comeau Drive at 9:45 a.m. and onto the lawn for a maypole dance.