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Friendship Festival: Time to make memories


By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The countdown begins! This year’s Friendship Festival will be held on Saturday, Aug. 26, at Mosher Park. Pictured is last year’s festival. File photo

RAVENA — The Friendship Festival is about more than games and fun… it’s a time to make memories.

Village Trustee and festival organizer Caitlin Appleby said the Friendship Festival, which will be held this weekend, is one of her fondest memories of childhood, a time for families to spend time together and make memories that will last a lifetime.

That sentiment is what spurred her to continue organizing the festival year after year.

“I just want everyone to have a good time and enjoy being with each other and making those memories,” Appleby said. “The stuffed animal that they might buy or the snow cone that they eat is going to go away, but those memories they will keep forever, so I think it is really important to build that community trust and engagement with everybody.”

This year’s festival will be held Aug. 26 at Mosher Park, beginning at 1 p.m. Admission to the festival is free, thanks to the event’s sponsors, Appleby said.

“Because of everyone who stepped up and donated, I feel like we were able to provide a lot for the kids this year and we have a lot of cool activities,” she said. “Every year is different, and I am very excited about this year. I feel like there are going to be a lot of things for the kids to do. It’s shaping up to be, I think, one of the best ones.”

This is the 39th year of the Friendship Festival. There will be activities at the park all day long, including face painting, a dunk tank sponsored by the RCS Community Business Association, a foam party, bounce houses, obstacle courses, a tie-dye station and the new Ravena Innovation Station for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.

A tent, sponsored by Rail to River Brewing, will offer simple carnival games for the younger set, and people of all ages can test out their watermelon eating skills.

“We have 23 people for the watermelon eating contest and I am so excited because we have nine 5-8 year olds – I am so excited to see them chow down on watermelon,” Appleby said. “It won’t be how much you can eat, it will be how fast you can eat it.”

New York State troopers will be on hand with a dive team and a rollover stimulator, and the Albany County Sheriff’s Office will bring their rock-climbing wall. The Ravena Fire Department will do demonstrations and offer activities. Live music from several bands will be performed throughout the day, beginning at 3:30 p.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m.

And there will be plenty of vendors.

“We have over 50 vendors this year,” Appleby said. “That is the most I have ever had. That includes food vendors, all the nonprofit organizations’ booths, all of our businesses that donated can have a booth, along with our regular craft vendors. There are a ton of vendors this year.”

At the end of the evening, the festival will conclude with a massive fireworks show by Young Explosives out of Rochester.

There will not be carnival rides this year because it was cost prohibitive, and the Mosher Park Pool will be closed for the day.

Appleby has been organizing the Friendship Festival for several years since the previous organizers stepped down.

“I wasn’t looking for this, but a couple of years ago some people stepped down and they needed someone to step up,” she said. “The festival was one of my favorite memories growing up — it was something you always looked forward to at the end of the summer. It was very special to me as a child and I felt strongly about keeping that alive and giving kids and families memories for years to come.”

This year’s Friendship Festival is sponsored by Holcim, Crawford & Associates Engineering and Land Surveying P.C., Barton & Loguidice PC, Composite Technology & Infrastructure LLC, South Town Optical, Mueller’s Automotive LLC, Capitaland Filter & Supply, Selkirk Transmission, Halfway House Tavern, Coeymans Landing Marine Services, John T. Biscone, Burns & Sons, C.A. Albright & Sons, Charles Hite Land Surveyor, Long Energy, TCI of New York, National Bank of Coxsackie, RCS Community Business Association, Ravena Shop ‘n’ Save, Collins and Son Inc., and Rail to River Brewing.

“I am astounded by the sponsors,” Appleby said. “Not everyone gave large quantities, but many hands make light work so because everyone donated a little bit, we are able to do this and keep it free for everybody. There are not a lot of things you can do for free anymore.”

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