By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — The Friendship Festival came to Mosher Park on Saturday, uniting a community and bringing together friends both old and new.
Now in its 39th year, the festival offered fun for all ages, from live music to fun and games like a dunk tank, foam party, educational activities, watermelon-eating contest, and there was even a puppy or two for the kids to swoon over.
This year’s festival was organized by a committee led by Village Trustee Caitlin Appleby, Yvonne Shackleton and Tina Hotaling.
While there were qualms over the weather, skies ended up bright and clear and comfortably warm.
“Leading up to this week I was very anxious about the weather,” Appleby said. “You work really hard planning things like this and it’s just contingent on Mother Nature. I am very pleased with the weather and it’s wonderful to see everyone coming out and having a good time.”
“It’s a perfect community day,” she added.
Several bands performed, including the local teen rock band J.A.N.E., an acronym for the first names of the band members — Jack, Adam, Nate and Eddie.
There were around 45 vendors lined up on the street selling everything from arts and crafts to carnival food, and many nonprofit groups handing out information about their missions.
One organization in particular — Rottie Empire Rescue — had kids lined up to pet a couple of puppies who were more than happy to oblige.
The face-painting station was a bit different this year, issuing tickets to make for a smoother process, Appleby said.
“We did a ticket system for the face-painting station this year, which seems to be running really smoothly,” she said. “Last year there were long wait times and people were waiting in line and didn’t get a chance — we don’t want that for anyone. I am always open to constructive criticism so in talking to the artists and some of the parents, this seemed like a better way of handling things. The face painting is a really popular attraction.”
Volunteers and vendors started setting up in the park at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and there were no glitches, Shackleton said.
The festival was precisely what organizers envisioned, she said.
“This is exactly what we wanted — to get everybody together for something fun for all ages,” Shackleton said. “At least for the two years that I have been working on this with Caitlin, that’s exactly what it’s been. It’s been a great day. People have really been enjoying all of the attractions.”
The watermelon-eating contest drew contestants of all ages.
“Those little kids had so much fun chowing down on watermelon,” Appleby said. “It was awesome.”
Deputy Mayor Nancy Warner said there was a steady flow of visitors to the park all day long, and the day was emblematic of small-town life.
“This year is one of THE best festivals,” Warner said. “Steady, busy crowd all day so far. This is what being a part of a small village community is all about… real community spirit.”
For Mayor Bill Misuraca, the Friendship Festival is a tradition deeply rooted in Ravena.
“The festival has taken several forms and locations over the years, but the concept remains: community first,” Misuraca said. “We are so proud to live where the local businesses can and will donate to make this a success. Children and adults alike seem to enjoy and participate in the day’s many events and that is the reward Frank Nunziato sought when he began the festival decades ago. Thank you to all our helpers and sponsors.”