Wallkill families enjoyed homemade goods, crafts and trinkets, local food and drinks, magic shows, a community art show, outdoor games and several community competitions during the 7th Annual Weekend of Wallkill celebration.
The Weekend of Wallkill festival, held on the grounds of the Wallkill Public Library, featured the popular Ulster County Dive Team, several fire engines, first response vehicles, tractors and other vehicles for the Touch A Truck Event. Pony rides were offered to the children and a petting zoo was available, along with a dog costume contest with catwalk, a bouncy house and a Lego Sculpture contest. Food trucks and booths served hot homemade food while other booths sold cookies, cakes and other homemade treats. The weekend festival was made possible by the Vision of Wallkill group, the Town of Shawangunk Board and various local businesses and community partners.
For the 7th Annual weekend, according to Debbie Barczak, President of the Vision of Wallkill, the theme of the festival was centered around wizardry and other magic-related concepts. Vendors were encouraged to come and dress up in magical attire and there would be magic shows throughout the day for the children to enjoy.
Serving as president of the group for the past six years, Barczak praised her team for their hard work to make this weekend possible. Like many festivals and other community events during the last several years, COVID put a halt to those events. Now with restrictions lifted and families and individuals returning to events and other daily related activities, it was all about time, preparation and overall excitement for the festival. “We were well received when we were able to open it up,” said Barczak.
The weekend celebration kicked off on Friday, September 23 with the Lego Building Contest and Art Show at Shawangunk Town Hall. The Lego Building Contest welcomed families to come in and construct various creations that would be judged on Saturday.
Participating in the lego contest was Mateo Mercado, who was joined and assisted with the building by his father Carlos. The two spent several minutes looking at the various pieces in the kit, deciding on how to approach creating their piece.
Heading into the weekend Carlos was looking forward to spending time with his son and enjoying all the festivities. “I’m looking forward to just anything that’s gonna put a smile on my son’s face,” Carlos said. “Something about Wallkill, the aura, the presence just, like, really just brings people in and once they’re in, they’re definitely in. There’s a lot of things you can do.”
Parent Jazmin Coyman, along with her children Aaron and Emma, also took part in the Lego building contest and were equally as excited to be back at the festival and taking part in all of the activities.
As the building continued, Barczak led the young Lego builders with a quick story time before heading out on the library lawn for the Harvest Egg Hunt. As soon as the signal was given, children rushed all across the lawn and collected as many eggs as they could. Each egg would equal one piece of candy that the children could take home with them. A Restorative Yoga class and art show completed the night heading into Saturday.
On Saturday morning, while several youth soccer games were played on one of the neighboring fields, vendors set up their booths in preparation for the day. With rain having come in the week prior, the festival had brief cool temperatures with clear skies throughout the weekend.
As the festival progressed throughout the day, smiles abounded, friends and family laughed and talked amongst themselves, people browsed the booths, food was prepared and served to hungry customers and the people of the Hamlet of Wallkill enjoyed their time together.
For the past five years, Mary Jo Reed, owner of Bidizza Gifts, has been setting up her booth at the Weeknd of Wallkill; and each year she has set up her station, the organizers have been a great support for her. While the festival was interrupted by COVID, Reed kept busy by hand making masks to help navigate the past several years. Now with restrictions lifted, Reed was very happy to be back at this event for the community, seeing customers stop by her booth and enjoying the day. Later on in the day, Reed said her husband would be stopping by the festival with their grandchildren to enjoy all of the festivities. “I’d like to thank all the people that are supporting the event, not just the customers, but also the vendors,” Reed said. “It also means a great deal when you have the local community to come and support it.”
During the course of the afternoon, members and coaches of the Wallkill Youth Lacrosse Program welcomed children to take some practice shots on their set up net, ran some raffles and introduced the game of lacrosse to the community. Frank Croce, who serves as President of the Wallkill Youth Lacrosse Board, and his wife Camaron, who is also a board member, helped with running the booth with their fellow members and greeted parents and children who came by their booth.
“I look forward to this day, every single year. I love seeing everyone come together,” Camaron said. “We are a small town, we’re a hamlet but we are a very mighty town and we are as a community, we have each other’s backs. And when we come together like this, you can see it, you can feel it.”
As the evening came and the Weekend of Wallkill concluded, community members gathered at Popp’s Pavilion for the Wallkill Lions Club Steak Dinner.
Heading into the coming weeks of the fall season, the Vision of Wallkill will be preparing for their Haunted Hamlet of Wallkill celebration which includes families and residents to submit photographs of their Halloween decorated homes and front yards. Submissions will need to be sent in by October 27. There will also be Halloween’s Art Along the Sidewalk and inaugural Pumpkin Smash on November 6.
The next meeting for Vision of Wallkill will be held on Thursday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Shawangunk Town Hall in the Community Room. All are invited to attend. To learn more about Vision of Wallkill, visit visionofwallkill.com, visit their Facebook page or call/ text 845-527-6230.