There was something for everyone at the seventh annual Weekend of Wallkill festival. The sunny late summer weather made for a bright celebration in the Hamlet of Wallkill last weekend.
Produced by Vision of Wallkill, the weekend celebrated two days of community art, festival and connection. On Friday, the “Beauty of Wallkill” art show and contest took place in the Shawangunk Town Hall library with more than 30 artists showcasing their interpretation of this year’s theme of “Makin’ Me Happy: Things That Make Us Smile”, using various media including photography and sculpture.
Tom Bohan earned first place for an adult Wallkill area photo at the art show. Charlie Rhodes captured first place for an adult worldwide photo. Tom Hutt’s painting of a farm earned him first place for an adult painting. Kaley Slader’s artwork earned her first place for a teen painting while Cynthia DuBois’ work earned her first place for an adult sculpture and the judge’s choice award.
While the art show was taking place, more than 20 young fledgling engineers shaped interpretive structures with Lego building blocks at the Wallkill Public Library. Next, over fifty eager hunters were briefed with a harvest story and then assembled at twilight to find and gather harvest eggs that were hidden on the library lawn.
Saturday’s festivities began with an early set-up of tents and tables by over 40 vendors and organizations on the library lawn. The lawn was transformed from a serene green space to a center of fun and commerce, open to the public. Neighbors shopped at various artisanal vendors and local businesses. This included 845 Candle Co. and Heavenly Creations by Kim. Each vendor relished the opportunity to promote their business.
“There’s a lot of good vendors, people are great,” said Kim Wright, owner of Heavenly Creations by Kim, and a first time vendor at the Weekend of Wallkill. “I’m doing well. I’m very surprised that I’m doing well. I’m very happy. It’s a great event.”
Event attendees were able to meet their public service officials, teachers, coaches and friends. Hundreds of families visited the Vision of Wallkill information table where one could find more details on the festival and other upcoming community events. Young “brave captains” also embarked on a Pirate Scavenger Hunt in search of small treasures or “tokens of wisdom” at various booths and activities that were revealed on the treasure map. Thousands of festival goers would find the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department championing their Operation Safe Child ID mission, through identification and fingerprinting, to better assist parents and guardians in case of missing children. The Sheriff’s Department’s dive team lent their expertise in safe water skills, demonstrating them in a huge mobile tank outfitted with oxygen tanks and wetsuits to awed observers. While in the tank, they played tic-tac-toe with children on the outside. Several organizations also took part in advancing their cause and gaining community support including the Wallkill Woman’s Club, Wallkill Youth Lacrosse Team, Wallkill Reformed Church, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry and the Wallkill Lion’s Club.
Under the bright red and white striped tent, children and parents alike were entertained with a pirate show, where they learned all the details on how to be a pirate, including how to fight like one. Families also stretched out their legs on the grassy lawn or sat in the shady spaces under the tall trees as they savored their snacks provided by the Snackin Kidz Club of the Wallkill Reformed Church or the tasty grubs of pulled pork or spicy chicken sandwich topped off with mac and cheese, all craftily delivered from the Fatboyz Food Truck.
With excitement, hundreds of children rode on the back of a pony for the first time and played with adorable baby goats at the petting zoo. Shiny large trucks, tractors and electric cars provided a “Touch-a-Truck” exhibit. Children also took time to paint with Wallkill Rocks on river stones to keep as a memento from the day. Adults learned a little about the history of Wallkill and Marion Borden with an informational discussion led by Bob Mooney of the Historical Society of Shawangunk and Gardiner.
Several competitors also took part on the front stage to display and demonstrate their utmost best to the community. In the spirit of Wallkill and good-old competition, two rounds of the potato peeling contest started the day where one round consisted of enthusiastic bi-partisan community leaders demonstrating their peeling agility, with the winner taking a bag of potatoes as a prize. In the dog costume contest, a skillfully painted chihuahua dressed as baby Yoda took the top prize for best costume overall. Winners in each category received a gift basket with a gift certificate donated by the Natural Pet Center in Gardiner. Wallkill’s bakers also submitted their family’s best pie recipe at the apple baking contest. For the Floral Centerpiece Contest, crafters and amateur florists fashioned live and silk floral pieces into works of art to exhibit.
Smiles could be seen throughout the Weekend of Wallkill event, as people enjoyed each other’s company after the festival was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Donna Barczak, president of Vision of Wallkill, loves the event as it brings the community together and provides support to local vendors and organizations.
“We’re really happy to see the residents out here supporting all those vendors, organizations and the Vision of Wallkill,” she said.