There are fall days in the Northeast that are just perfect; when the temperature, the sun and all other factors slip into place, it is a magical day. It happened at this year’s special two-day celebration known as Walktoberfest that was held on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, just west of the Walkway Over the Hudson in Highland.
The event bought together a mix of about 200 vendors, selling food, home ground coffee, wines, pickles, honey, cheeses, Caribbean food and BBQ, along with produce from a number of area farms and a wide variety of creative craft people selling their wares, musicians, bakers, and even one vendor who brought his pet anaconda and other snakes.
Eric Norberg is a member of the planning committee for Walktoberfest.
“It’s mutual effort between the Rail Trail and Walkway Over the Hudson and it’s all about coordination, volunteerism and getting everybody out here to set things up,” he said. “In a few years it’s amazing how it has blossomed; it’s about good weather and good timing and planning and social media. It’s been a perfect storm having this all come together.”
Walkway’s Director of Special Events Jami Anson says Walktoberfest is a joyful event.
“I think it’s a beautiful weekend and the vendors are thrilled with being out and showing off the best of the Hudson Valley,” she said. “It’s just a happy event and everybody is enjoying themselves.”
Anson had a waiting list of about 500 vendors.
“We sold out of vendor spaces four months ago,” she said. “The foods are fantastic; I’ve got Ecuadorian, Puerto Rican, lobster and cheese cake heaven. There is also Guyanese and southern cuisine with a Culinary chef and Mark Elia with BBQ is always fantastic.”
Anson pointed out that Walktoberfest, “will always be a great anniversary celebration for us and a good partnership with the Hudson Valley Rail Trail,” she said. “This was the first day the Walkway opened in 2009.” She noted that the profits are split evenly between the two partners that will support the upkeep of 7 miles of the rail trail as well as Walkway programs, such as the monthly ‘Walkway Talks.’ Ethan Thompson handled a drone that shot the event for the record and is also on the Hudson Rail Trail Board of Directors. He is a Marist College student and plays on their baseball team.
“It’s cool to see everyone come together, especially after a year of Covid and faces without masks and people eating food together,” he said.
Walkway’s Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein said after the event is over she will simply collapse.
“Yes the whole team has worked really hard. It’s a lot to pull off and without this kind of staff and volunteers we couldn’t do it,” she said. “Its been a great effort and a great day in the Hudson Valley.”
Waldstein said it is heartening to hear people say they came to Starry, Starry Night or Walktoberfest because of the Walkway Over the Hudson.
“So it’s a community that’s forming around the Walkway and that is the most exciting thing for me,” she said, adding that once Covid finally loses its grip, “which we hope is next year, I see nothing but growth in the future.”
Susan Horton brought her tasty business ‘Nothing Bundt Cakes’ to Walktoberfest.
“This is a cake through and through that is made in a specific mold, called the Bundt pan.” The name of the cake derives from a European cake called Gugelhupt. In northern Germany it is known as Bundkuchen, which joins two words Bund (bundle) and Kuchen (cake) and reflects the donut hole pan. This desert became popular in the United States in the 1950s and the 1960s.
Horton started making Bundt cakes two years ago. She credits her southern grandmothers for her interest in this particular desert.
“We didn’t necessarily have cookie jars on our counters, we had Bundt cakes,” she recalls. “My father’s mother always made a marble with a drizzle frosting and my mother’s mother always made a Bundt cake with chocolate frosting. So it’s very nostalgic to us.”
Horton and her husband Manny were looking to add to their existing barbershop business, “a little bit and when we saw this we were like what an awesome fit; so it’s like nostalgic to my family.”
Horton has a location in Poughkeepsie at 2521 Route 9, just across from Barnes & Noble next to Starbuck’s and Sweet Frog.
“We specialize in four sizes and bake 11 flavors daily, from single serving Bundtlets to large Tiered Bundts, which serves up to 26 people,” she said. “We bake them all from scratch.”
Claus Ronnex-Printz and Melody Joseph brought carvings and gifts from their company Bali Made. Claus and his wife met on a black sand beach in Bali on new year’s morning 2000. The two joined forces, formed their company and contract with families in Bali who take their designs and make their many carvings, wooden wind chimes and displays they later sell. The couple spend from 2 to 4 months each year in Bali and have an apartment in New York City and a storage place in Woodstock.
Claus said, “This is the first event of this and we looked at each other and said man...the weather is with us, the people are with us and the area is fantastic.”
Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland, aka the musical duo Frenchy and the Punk, have a symbol Batfrog.
Samantha said, “I have been designing different stuff and Scott does the pen and ink drawings. He does the drawings and I add the color and we design it together.” These are put onto colorful tea towels and T-shirts but many are used as wall hangings.
“All in all, its a good day, absolutely,” the duo agreed.