With a mild cloud cover and cool winds, residents of the Town of Gardiner gathered together at Majestic Park on Saturday, October 1 to celebrate the highly anticipated Gardiner Day with live music, vendor booths, dance and martial arts demonstrations and overall fun with family and friends.
At around noon on the day of the festival, members of the Gardiner Fire Department and other community members gathered at the park’s flagpole to begin the opening ceremony. As the firemen raised the American flag, student Jenna Triguero sang the national anthem for all those present. With the flag raised and anthem sung, applause and pictures followed and Gardiner Day was officially open.
The first performance of the day began with Take The Leap Dance Studio, where students from their respective level groups performed various pieces for the crowd under the park pavilion. Later on was Illusionist Ryan Dutcher, a performance of skill by Fighting Spirit Karate & Fitness and tricks by Black Jack Ryan of the Harlem Wizards. While all performances were going on, residents could make their way to the Paul M. Mele Community and Recreation Center, also known as the pole barn, which served as the main location for the vendors and community groups to operate their booths.
With only about a month into official business, Gabbi Osuba, owner of Custom Tees By Gabbi, was grateful to be a first time vendor at Gardiner Day. With the Halloween holiday approaching, many of the pieces that Osuba had to sell were various pieces that added their own flair and inspiration on the upcoming holiday. “I’m just hoping that, you know, some people come by and like what they see,” Osuba said.
At the festival, Ashley Napoli, owner of Focaccia Flourist, was joined by her husband Ian, who assisted in speaking with customers and selling her handmade breads and additional treats to customers. The couple were glad to see the festival turnout from the community and also enjoyed the day celebration with their son, who was enjoying his time with friends and family. The business itself has been around for less than a year, and this was Ashley’s first time as a vendor for Gardiner Day. “I feel really good about today. I was a little bit nervous about the rain. But I think it all worked out,” Ashley said. “It’s been a good day. Everyone seems like they’re having fun,” said Ian.
As the later part of the fall and winter months start to approach, first time Gardiner Day vendor Matilda Rooney of KnitzByMatilda welcomed customers to browse her hand knit hats, gloves and small other handmade items and shared how she was doing throughout the course of the afternoon. “I’m a little overwhelmed. I wasn’t expecting this many people to come out because the weather is not that great today,” Rooney said. “But so far, the rain has held out and it’s my first time at Gardiner Day, and a lot of people are here.”
While people browsed the various vendors, children had the opportunity to go into several bouncy houses, play on the playground, get some face paint and henna, receive a balloon animal or participate in a sack race. Families also had the opportunity to enjoy hay rides throughout the afternoon.
Longtime Gardiner resident and first time member of the Gardiner Day Committee Jen Bruntil made her various rounds around the festival, checking in and catching up with friends and neighbors.
“I’m just happy. I mean, I’m watching little kids do a sack race, having fun, you know, there’s people just coming together, talking, kind of catching up, maybe these people haven’t even seen each other for quite a while,” Bruntil said. “I think everybody feels happy to kind of be gathering again. I think just, you know, if you’re not here this year, come check us out next year.”
Originally from New Hampshire, Christina Liakos moved to the town five years ago. Since moving to the area, she has started a family and has joined the Gardiner Day Committee. For the Gardiner Day planning, she served as the Vendor Coordinator.
“Being part of Gardiner Day, and being part of the committee is, honestly, it’s a privilege,” Liakos said. “I get the chance to sit down with other people who have lived in town for a long time and learn about the history of how Gardiner Day has become what it is today. I’m grateful to be part of Gardiner.”
According to Liakos, the Gardiner Day festival had sponsorship from the Town of Gardiner, Walden Savings Bank, Ulster Savings Bank, and Dawes Septic & Repair. In addition to these sponsors, the Gardiner Library, Gardiner Fire Department and many local businesses and nonprofits had educational booths set up and vendors sold locally made crafts throughout the day.
“We haven’t had a Gardiner Day since COVID. Our community has gone through a lot like all communities across the world, and across New York,” Liakos said. “It’s just really nice to be out today to see my neighbors in person, see kids running around, and just celebrating joy and uplifting lots of the local communities and businesses right here in Gardiner.”
Liakos shared that even after the Gardiner Day festivities, she already will begin planning for next year’s Gardiner Day and she thanks all those who had the opportunity to come out and celebrate Gardiner Day.