“Wouldn’t it be fun to do something like this in Saugerties?” That’s what a group of friends from the Saugerties area, who first met while doing volunteer work together started asking each other after a trip to the Funky Ice Fest and Winter Carnival in Lake George. They liked to travel and attend events together, and talking about it they shared a feeling that the Saugerties downtown needed some sort of midwinter morale (and tourism) boost once the holiday festivities had faded and the equine excitement of HITS was still months away.
Together, they began to brainstorm a big winter event as a way “to give back to the community,” according to Miriam Adams, proprietor of the Renwick Clifton House Bed and Breakfast.
Inspiration came from the Sinterklaas celebrations in Rhinebeck and Kingston each December. “We thought we’d do a parade with puppets like they do in Rhinebeck,” Adams recalls, “but it has to be more than a parade.”
She and fellow organizers Sue and Victor Sachar, Kelly Myers, and Paul and Cheryl Van Schaack began asking around among their business and social contacts, and found “an “\outpouring of support” for a townwide blowout taking up an entire winter weekend.
Businesses lined up to become sponsors. The village and town governments endorsed the event. The Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club came on board, and schools, churches, key clubs, the Saugerties Artists’ Association and other local organizations signed up.
That’s how the first annual Saugerties Snow Moon Festival – set to take place from February 3 to 5, ending on the actual date of the Snow Moon – came into being. “It’s a first-year thing, a small-town kind of thing,” says Adams, taking a break from her preparations in early January.
At that time. the group of active volunteers already numbered 40 or more. “But it just keeps growing.”
“The Snow Moon is a full moon that shows up each February to beautify the sky during the snowiest and coldest months of the year,” the festival website explained. “This extraordinary celestial event sends a message of comfort and encouragement, lighting the sky with beauty and hope. A new and joyous season is upon us. The snow will soon melt from the mountains, the fish will swim in the streams, and the sun will shine bright and warm. Senses will be lifted, bringing positive energy and good luck in the months to come.”
This upbeat early-February theme then takes a more serious tone, noting that local indigenous tribes called this midwinter lunar cycle the Hunger Moon. “Given the current economic state, the rising cost of groceries and fuel, this winter will be tough for so many area residents,” the website continued. “As a result, we felt that it was fitting to donate the proceeds from the Snow Moon Festival to the Saugerties-area food banks.”
Fundraising to fight hunger is the giving-back piece of the festival. While admission to the majority of the weekend’s many events will be free, a few will sell tickets that will benefit the food banks.
A packed lineup awaits residents and visitors. Yes, a big parade will be the centerpiece. There will be craft markets; art shows, pop-ups and street installations; outdoor bars and indoor warming stations; live music at a variety of venues; live comedy, hypnosis and magic shows; a chili cook-off, a bake sale, an all-you-can-eat breakfast, a scavenger hunt, a history lecture, and a full-moon hike and a stargazing party. Plus even a 5K run, weather permitting.
Activities especially targeted to children include crafts workshops, wagon rides, free movies at the Orpheum Theatre, an obstacle course, face painting and games.
A raffle, with tickets selling for $25 apiece, features a grand prize of dinner for eight at the Clifton House prepared by celebrity chef Ric Orlando.
You can see the full schedule in detail at https://saugertiessnowmoonfestival.com/events, but here are some temporal highlights. On Friday, February 3 the festival kicks off at 11 a.m. with a winter art exhibit at the Newberry Artisan Market (236 Main Street), which will return on Saturday and Sunday. The Moonlight Market at SPAF (169 Ulster Avenue) gets under way with an opening reception for VIP ticketholders at 4 p.m. and opens to the general public at 4:30. The band Roadhouse will provide live music.
The first of several craft workshops for kids to make 3-D snowflakes to carry in the parade will start at 4 p.m. at the Saugerties Library (91 Washington Avenue). The Esopus Conservancy will lead a guided snow-moon hike beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve (10 Shady Lane). And SPAF will host a comedy show starring Linda Belt at 9 p.m.
The Snow Moon 5K Run takes off from the large pavilion at Cantine Field at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 4. From 10 a.m. on you can register at the Inquiring Mind Bookstore (200 Main Street) and get your clue list for the Snow Moon Scavenger Hunt, and at 11 a.m. at the same venue you can sign up to participate in the chili cook-off, roving to various restaurants to sample their entries before casting your vote.
Also on Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m., the Saugerties Boys & Girls Club (45 Partition Street) will host a crafts fair, and the Saugerties Reformed Church (173 Main Street) will offer a bake sale, indoor pom-pom snowball fights and cornhole games.
At noon, the Saugerties Public Library (91 Washington Avenue) will host a history talk on ice harvesting on the Hudson. More kids’ crafts workshops begin at 1 p.m. at the Atonement Lutheran Church (100 Market Street) and the Exchange Hotel (217 Main Street), while a farm tractor pulls a wagon for free rides around the village. Dancers will perform in the window of the Newberry Artisan Market at 3 p.m.
The flagship event of the Snow Moon Festival, a parade of lights, will launch at 6 p.m. on Saturday from the Sawyer Savings Bank on Market Street. A star party with a bonfire, plus telescopes provided by the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association, will start at 7 p.m. at Cantine Field (19 Smallworld Avenue). Peter Einhorn’s Sounds of Samba will wrap up the day’s festivities from 9 p.m. to midnight at the rooftop bar at Salt & Fire (124 Partition Street).
If you didn’t party late on Saturday, you might want to start Sunday early with the VFW all-you-can-eat breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. at the American Legion (30 John Street). At 11 a.m., you’ll have to choose between a hypnosis show with illusionist Jace Strongin or a movie matinée for younger children, both at Upstate Films’ Orpheum Theatre (156 Main Street).
A decoupage lantern-making workshop for all ages starts at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Saugerties Methodist Church (67 Washington Avenue). At 5 p.m. the Saugerties Reformed Church (173 Main Street) will cap off the weekend with a candlelight concert featuring Niall Connelly and Marji Zintz.
Paid events include entry to the moonlight market ($26 VIP, $10 general admission), the comedy show ($25), the hypnosis show ($8), the full-moon hike ($5) and the lantern-making workshop ($24). Tickets can be purchased at https://saugertiessnowmoonfestival.com/purchase-tickets. Pay at the door for the VFW all-you-can-eat breakfast.
In addition to the scheduled fun, the organizers of the Snow Moon Festival have been reaching out to Sawyers with a special plea to help brighten spirits on the weekend of February 3 to 5: “We’re asking residents to keep their lights up, turn them off after the holidays are over and then turn them on again for the celebration,” says Miriam Adams. “It’s going to be spectacular!”
To learn more about the Saugerties Snow Moon Festival, or how to become a sponsor, a market vendor or a volunteer, call 914-388-2375 or e-mail email@example.com.