By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — The 38th annual Friendship Festival will be held this Saturday and the village is gearing up for a day of fun.
This year’s festival, held at Mosher Park on Aug. 27, will have something special this year — the community is also celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Ravena Fire Department.
“They came to me and wanted to do something special,” festival coordinator Caitlin Appleby said. “I felt very strongly about dedicating the festival to them this year — 125 years is just an astronomical amount of time to be serving our community.”
The festival will kick off this year with a parade in honor of the fire department’s service, and there will be several demonstrations showing the department’s work in the community. Village Ambassador Rebecca Shook will be the parade’s grand marshal.
“They will have the parade starting at 11:30 a.m. and then they will have three demonstrations that day,” Appleby said. “They are doing a bucket brigade, a hot-bottle exchange demonstration where they show how they change out the oxygen tanks when a firefighter needs a new one, and then they will do a gear demonstration. They will let the kids get dressed up in some of their firefighter equipment so they can see how quickly they have to put it on and what is entailed in putting on all of that gear. It’s an educational opportunity for the kids.”
“If we don’t have a new crop of volunteer firefighters coming up in the next few years the pot will run dry, so I think this is a good exposure for our kids,” Appleby said.
The Friendship Festival this year was organized by a committee consisting of Appleby, Yvonne Shackleton, Tina Hotaling, and Chuck and Christina King.
“I am blessed to have a group of hard working, dedicated people who, with no questions asked, jumped on board and asked what needed to be done,” Appleby said. “I couldn’t have done this without them.”
There will be several new activities at the festival this year.
“We have a pie-eating contest this year that we have never done before,” Appleby said. “Right now we have about 17 people signed up for the contest, mostly kids. It’s going to be awesome.”
New activities also include henna tattoos from Stellar-NY, and Mad Science to let kids get some hands-on science fun.
“Mad Science is an assembly-style science show,” Appleby said. “They will have a discovery booth where they will have hands-on science experiments that kids can tinker with. From 4-4:45 p.m. we will have a fire and ice show and there will be some really exciting things happening.”
Earlier in the afternoon, from 1-3 p.m., there will be a foam party where kids can cool off with condensed bubbles. Pony rides and a horse demonstration will offer fun for animal lovers.
There will also be two face painters, some 40 vendors selling food and other items, and a dunk tank, which is sponsored by the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Community Business Association. There will be a fireworks show at nightfall.
Live music will be provided by the band Dusk Till Dawn, and the RCS Modern Band will open up for them.
“RCS Modern Band is a band that played at the Music and Arts Festival and had a very good response,” Appleby said. “These are four seventh graders and they had one of the biggest responses at the Music and Arts Festival, which fueled their passion for playing. They loved it so much that they wanted to play for the Friendship Festival.”
“The fact that these kids got a taste at the Music and Arts Fest and have now developed this love for playing live and they want to play at a community event — that is my vision for how I want this community to be,” Appleby said. “That’s what my goal is — to do these events so these kids get invested and grow to love the place where they live.”
There will be no carnival rides at this year’s festival due to the loss of some sponsorships.
Sixteen local businesses did donate to the Friendship Festival this year. They are Collins & Son, Crossroads Ford, Mueller’s Automotive, Charles Hite Land Surveyor, Vasto & Sons Landscaping, Hi-Tech Advisers, Sycamore Country Club, Long Energy, Francisco Equipment, Shear Creations Studio, Rail to River Brewery, NE Polygraph, Inc., Halfway House Tavern, The Hair Em Salon, Eck’s Farms, and Barton & Loguidice.
Engineering firm Barton & Loguidice is sponsoring the fireworks show at the festival’s conclusion.
Admission and all activities are free, thanks to the local sponsors, Appleby said.
“We are very grateful to our sponsor businesses because this means a lot to families that don’t have the extra money to go and do these kinds of things,” Appleby said. “Money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to and to be able to do this for our community and provide this service is extremely rewarding and fulfilling. I know the village looks forward to this every year.”