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Save the Street Fest
by Cheryl A. Rice
March 12, 2009 01:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Rosendale Street Festival was joyfully revived in the late 1990s after a decade's absence, and in the years since has become the best bargain in town - or county - for those seeking more live music than they have time to hear, street vendors, clowns, balloons, Indian bedspreads, bargain and gourmet-priced duds and decorations, information on local activities and activists - all for free (or a small donation, if one has the cash). In past years, corporate sponsors have made up the difference between those donations and the actual cost of the event, since although the entire crew is comprised of volunteers, things like insurance, security and stage equipment do unavoidably cost money. This year, not one corporate sponsor has been able to renew its previous commitment to the Festival; and unless money is raised beforehand, the Rosendale Street Festival is in very real danger of becoming another casualty of the recession.

Festival Committee chairman and musician Charlie Kniceley said, "We have discussed canceling, but everyone on the Committee agrees that it would be a shame now that we have actually had five Festivals in a row - a record - and interest from musicians and vendors is at an all-time high." The Festival was forced to skip a year along the way due to financial difficulties, and at this point is still operating with a $3,000 deficit carried over from last year. "We believe that the Festival is motivated by the desire of the population rather than corporate interests, anyway."

Be that as it may, the Committee still needs to raise a substantial sum in order to put on a show this summer. "We anticipate the total cost for the Festival this year will be approximately $42,000. Donations at the gate and money raised from space rental for vendors will most likely raise less than half of that total, so we are looking to raise at least another $22,000. Please keep in mind that the total cost of $42,000 only covers basic operating expenses," said Kniceley.

A winter fundraiser is scheduled for this Saturday, March 14 at the Rosendale Recreation Center on Route 32, beginning at noon. So far, bands scheduled to perform include Dog on Fleas, Ratboy, Jr., Yarrow, Studio Stu, Breakaway, the Trapps, Mr. Rusty, the Virginia Wolves, Voodelic and Sabor Con Colour. Earl Lundy of Voodelic, a blues- and rock-based band, said of the Festival, "It took Voodelic more than a couple of years to get 'em to give us a shot, but it's been great every year since. The staff is always very helpful, and the audiences are supportive and encouraging."

For ten hours of music, and ten bands so far, a $10 donation at the door seems fitting, but no fixed fee will be charged. Kniceley said, "We are reaching out to individual donors this year as we never have in the past, in the hopes that those who can afford a donation will help us out in a true sense of community, therefore allowing those who can't afford a donation to enjoy the weekend as well." Cost-cutting measures such as the elimination of the paper program in lieu of a more user-friendly website are being instituted as well.

The end of the Festival, if it were to occur, would be "a sad closing to something that has survived for 30 years and has come to be an awaited event by many in the Hudson Valley and beyond," said Kniceley. "The Festival has always been about the musicians wanting to perform. It started that way 31 years ago, and has grown to the beast that it is today." He said that last year, 74 bands performed on five stages over the Festival weekend, and that applications to play (for free, remember) came from as far away as Montreal and Nashville.

For information on volunteering for the fundraiser, the Festival or making a donation to the cause, contact Kniceley at (845) 658-8055, or just show up at the Rec Center with some cash.

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