By Jordan Ries
For The Leader-Herald
The Gloversville Railfest will be back for its 16th year on Saturday with plans for another fun-filled day of entertainment, food and family.
“I’m anticipating Railfest to be bigger than it’s ever been,” said Jeremy Trajewski, chairman of the Gloversville Recreation Commission.
Railfest was canceled during 2020 but the Commission pulled it off in 2021. However, COVID made it difficult for members to trust any kind of certainty, according to organizers.
“We had the hand[-sanitizing] stations everywhere,” said April Rienhardt, treasurer of the Recreation Commission. “We took many precautions to stay safe. It was a little weird last year coming back and not knowing and then knowing and then not knowing again. But this year we pretty much started straight off the first meeting.”
“Our last Railfest pre-pandemic, we raised $8,000 that day,” Trajewski said. “And through community sponsors that we had matching donations, we ended up with a total of nearly $25,000. We completely renovated a city park and put in new playgrounds.”
So far this year, over 80 vendors have already reserved space for the festival and the newest addition to Railfest, a karaoke competition, is showing promise for a big turnout this year, according to organizers.
Festivities begin at 10 a.m. at the Trail Station Park on West Fulton Street and will end with a fireworks show around 9 p.m.
Classic games will return to Railfest like Giant Jenga and Giant Connect Four for families to play in friendly competitions, while live music plays in the background all day long. Attendees can purchase $10 day passes for full access to the bounce houses and inflatable obstacle course on the lawn. Tickets will be offered too for goers who only stay for a few hours.
“It’s a really good time and it’s family friendly,” said Devon Davis, deputy city clerk of the City of Gloversville and mother of one. “Everyone can come together as a community and play against people that you’ve never really played against or met before.”
The Gloversville Fire Department will continue the tradition of stationing a fire truck in the parking lot and letting kids play in the water. A dunking booth will be set up for the event too, giving volunteers a way to cool off from the sunny August weather.
Raffle tickets will float around for a bike auction, 50/50, and a chance to win gift cards and prize baskets donated by local sponsors.
Another big draw will be the car show, which has already had interest from 100 people, Trajewski said during a phone interview on Aug. 3. The cars, trucks, and motorcycles on display are expected to rev up the crowd, he said.
At the same time as the car show, the annual Railfest Pageant will be going on. This year, Rienhardt has organized an ‘80s-themed show and welcomes everyone to participate in the talent portion, outfit-of-choice, or the online people’s choice contest.
Winners of each age category will be crowned the day of Railfest. School supplies, bookbags, journals and other prizes will be awarded for participation. The application and $30 fee are due on Wednesday and slots are limited.
Karaoke contestants — divided into 12 and under; 12 to 18; and 19 and older — will be given the opportunity to sing a song of their choice to judges for a trophy and bragging rights as first-time winners.
The signup sheet has been overloaded with interest, Rienhardt said, and she expects it will be a regularly scheduled event as the years go on.
“When I came on [to the Gloversville Recreation Commission], we literally only put on a few events throughout the year and they were much smaller in scope. With the group of people that we have now and the work that we’ve done throughout the years, we’ve added and continue to add events every year. We seem to be growing more and more,” Trajewski said
The fest is a community event put on by the community, for the community, according to organizers.
Gloversville Rec uses Railfest to raise funds for the city’s park renovations and improvements. Its members consist of volunteer Gloversville residents and parents.
“Myers Park was the last park we just finished. And then we have what everybody calls The Cage. It’s where the basketball hoops are. There’s also a park that runs from there to Washington street that’s actually still in construction,” Reinhardt said, who is a mother of four. “There’s always something that we can do for the kids, to keep them off the streets and engaged.”
I wanted to do something that would give back to my children,” Trajewski said, who is a father to triplets. “It’s a passion for all of us to be able to put on these events and do things for the Gloversville community.”