Families and visitors were treated to more than 100 vendors offering food, raffles, local goods and products, local produce, musical performances and good family fun during the annual Pine Bush Harvest Festival on Saturday, September 17.
The harvest festival was made possible through efforts of the Pine Bush Lions Club and like the well known Pine Bush UFO Fair, this festival stands as a major staple in the community.
On Saturday morning, Lions Club members, along with several members of the police department, helped guide vendors to their spots and controlled traffic. Vendors would check in with the Lions Club and proceed with their booth setup. Booths lined Main St. from Center St. to Maple Avenue.
At around 9:30 in the morning, a crowd gathered at the Anne Hill Adams Memorial Bandstand, awaiting the performance of the Pine Bush High School Select Choirs, led by director Nicholas Ruggeri. The students in the choir sang several practiced pieces in front of friends, family and other early morning visitors who took pictures and recorded the performances on their phones. As the sun began to rise higher in the sky, more and more families slowly started to gather on Main Street. Adjacent to the bandstand was the outdoor food court area where families enjoyed hot dogs, cookies, shaved ice, burgers and fries. Amazing Grace Fellowship Church, Empanada O’Nada and Boy Scout Troop 37 were several groups selling food and other goods.
Born and raised in Pine Bush, Dan Wittenberg, ScoutMaster of Troop 37 proudly claimed that Troop 37 is the group that sells the best funnel cake at the festival. Returning after the COVID shutdown, Wittenberg was happy to see the community come together to celebrate each other and Pine Bush.
“It’s a good day to just come out and stroll around. That’s what it is. I mean, we’ve been missing it for a couple years,” Wittenberg said.
Walking along Main St. visitors and community members stopped at various booths and purchased books, inflatable aliens, t-shirts, local produce at the farmers market, jewelry, mugs and dresses. Other performances were held at the bandstand and the Museum Stage located along Main St. Children also had the opportunity to be a part of a Touch A Truck where several fire trucks were on display.
Over the course of the afternoon, first time vendor Sarah Rogers, who started sewing in high school, spoke with customers about her hand sewn bags and other products that were available for purchase. Rogers, who had previously been a vendor at the UFO Festival, shared that she was happy to see the various visitors and customers at her booth, looking and asking about her products, some even offering compliments on the work. “You’re not gonna see the stuff you can buy on the internet usually, like this is all handcrafted, handmade and local,” Rogers said.
While Rogers had her bags and goods, her daughter Kali and her friend Gianna Banks, owners of K&G Creations, also had several homemade goods and products featured at the booth alongside for people to browse and purchase.
Under the Pine Bush Youth Lacrosse Club tent, John Pastormerlo and Raven Atria offered and collected raffle tickets for a brand new 2022 Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. ATV that was being raffled off during the day. “People are out here having an enjoyable time. It’s nice to see,” Pastormerlo said.
Steven Decker, Vice President of the Lions Club and an 11 year member, said all proceeds would be donated back into the community for other club projects and endeavors.
“Whatever we can make on Harvest Festival is appreciated,” Decker said.
Fellow club members Christopher Martinez and David Vance were also present in the morning, helping with setup and maintaining the Lions Club tent during the day. Like Decker, Martinez and Vance concurred with their reflections on being able to be back at this festival once again following COVID, seeing families enjoying their time together and businesses building their brand.
“It’s about these vendors getting their name out there, and of course, building their businesses, essentially, it’s a good community event,” said Martinez. “We all volunteer our time in order to do these things for the community. So I think it’s definitely something that’s appreciated.”
“A little while families did not see each other, except for on the phone or Skyping or something like that,” Vance said. “It’s nice to see community come back together. It’s nice to see families reunite after such a long time.
Martinez also extended an invitation to those in the community to come and join the club and help and become involved in the greater community. The Pine Bush Lions Club can be contacted via their Facebook page, Lions Club Pine Bush NY, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at (845) 744-5648.