GLOVERSVILLE — Picture-perfect weather combined with community enthusiasm for gathering together again in public after more than two years of the coronavirus pandemic helped spur an estimated record turnout for the 16th annual Gloversville Railfest at Trail Station Park on Saturday.
City Clerk Jenni Mazur, who serves as the liaison to the Recreation Commision, said the 16th Railfest was the biggest success its been for the four years the Recreation Commission has been running the event. She said last year there were about 45 vendors, but this year there were more than 70.
“It’s been incredible. It’s the biggest Railfest we’ve had so far,” Mazur said. “We’ve never had to use the 1 Frontage Road parking lot for the event, and it’s full with overflow vendors this year.”
Some of the food vendors included All Fired Up LLC, Diverdogs Hot dog Cart, El Cielo Mexican Food, Jammin Juice Bar, Kona Ice of Clifton Park, Queen Bee Bakery, the Mason Jar, the Pit Stop, Tony’s Fried Dough, Pop Pop’s Snack Shack and Something Different.
Railfest featured a car show, multiple bounce houses and a bounce obstacle course, giant versions of the popular tabletop games Jenga and Connect Four, as well as cornhole.
One of the most popular features of Railfest was perhaps the simplest. The Gloversville Fire Department sprayed water into the air in the city transit department’s parking lot. Both children and adults ran into the spray to beat the summer heat. Emily Rallbovsky and her sons Marques, 5, and Julius, 2, were among them.
Emily Ralbovsky said she’s lived in Gloversville her entire life and never attended any Railfest event until Saturday. She explained why.
“I wanted to try it out, because I have kids now, and I like craft vendors,” she said.
Some of the craft vendors at Rail Fest included Mama Time Crafts, Quilty treasures, Sewing on the Edge, the 518 Craft Fountain, Terrie Slocum, Kee to Independent Growth Inc., Mary Kay, Amanda’s Macarons N More, Bohemian Pizazz, Gallagher’s Gifts and Jennifer Bovee.
Some craft vendors also sold food, including downtown Gloversville mainstay the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, which often features locally sourced food items, but also some newcomers to the area including Colonie-based “Sweet Cheats,” a craft snack company that sells different healthy snacks featuring natural ingredients like cane sugar, and pink Himalayan salt that are made without preservatives. The company was created by Travis Riggins and features an alien bodybuilder as its trademarked logo. Riggins on Saturday handed out free 3D-printed toy items with the logo on it.
“I want to raise awareness about the need to get more fiber into people’s diets,” Riggins said.
Railfest also featured live music from bands such as Easy Feelin’, Flame, the Rough-n-Real Band and No Limit and one of the more popular features of the festival was a Karaoke contest run by DJ and event planning company Jurassik Jamz Entertainment, a company run by Recreation Commission board member Jordan Twardy.
Twardy warmed up the crowd with a Garth Brooks-esque karaoke performance, singing the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin'” on his wireless microphone as he ran back and forth under Trail Station Park’s gazebo.
“That’s how I do my sound check,” Twardy said, and then explained the origin of the karaoke contest. “This was something new this year. We’ve always had bands. We really wanted to bring something to interest young people, so a karaoke contest gives some of these people their first chance ever to sing in front of an audience.”
Twardy had several “silent judges” present in the crowd to help judge the contest, including Heather Flint who wore one of the crowns she won at the Miss Spirit of New York Pageant held in Troy. Flint, a 2015 Gloversville High School graduate, also helped judge the Miss Railfest Pageant, which had multiple winners.
The karaoke contest had three winners, for the under 12 category Jacki LaRue won for her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Before he Cheats,” Gracie Fancher who won the 12-18 category for “I Hold On” by Dierks Bentley and Eric Scalise won the 19 and over category.