Rockin’ Railfest

GLOVERSVILLE – This year, it was all about the music.

Terri Moore, a 15-year resident of Gloversville, brought her daughters Kaitlyn Senzio, 15, Marissa Swart, 8, and Laci Moore, 3, to the Ninth Annual Railfest on Saturday. A veteran of past Railfests, Moore said she liked the quality of the music on the main stage.

“The bands have been great. My little baby Laci can’t stop dancing,” she said.

Laci was dancing during the performance of rock band Borderline, one of six bands playing at Railfest. Other acts included Emily Smith, Colin Barclay, the Bentwood Rockers, Slingshot, Beth Zaje, Perfect Landing and Above the Flood. Early in the day, the cast of Colonial Little Theatre’s “Footloose” danced and sang numbers from the show.

Railfest is an annual event in Gloversville that combines family-friendly recreation with fundraising for local nonprofit organizations. Railfest Committee Chairman Yokie Bertos said the event came together Saturday thanks to the hard work of a very small committee.

“We had a very challenging year this year. We had a pretty small committee, only three people, but the weather held up, and we had some good vendors show up. I think we’re most proud of the full lineup of music,” he said.

Bertos, who grew up in Gloversville and now works for the New York State Assembly, served on the 2012 Railfest Committee before becoming head of the group in January. He said the event Saturday was a little smaller than prior years, with about 28 vendors compared to an average of 40 in past years, but the cost of Railfest 2013 was only about $1,500.

“This year is probably the least expensive event we’ve had. We spent a little less on advertising and really focused on getting the bands in here,” he said.

Bertos said Railfest 2013 was expected to raise enough money to donate about $2,000 to the Fulton County Regional Animal Shelter and the local Boys & Girls Club. Railfest raises money through vendor fees that are paid to the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.

One of the vendors at the event was ice cream truck business Sno Kone Joe. Owner Amanda Scott said her business has participated in past Railfests, and the weather usually affects turnout.

“Last year, it rained for like 15 minutes and most of the vendors left. I think vendors should be required to sign contracts stating they won’t leave, because if it started sprinkling right now – I’m sure everybody would pack up and leave, and that’s not good because people come back for later, for the fireworks,” she said.

The fireworks display Saturday night was paid for by the chamber of commerce. During the day, the weather was cloudy with some sunshine but no rain, which Bertos credited with helping attendance.

Christopher Lasnick, of Johnstown, worked as a volunteer at the Glove Theatre’s fundraising table, which had throwing and tossing games, eight chances for a dollar. Lasnick said the table helped raise more than $200 toward the cost of purchasing an $800 popcorn machine for the theater.

“I think this event has been very successful,” Lasnick said.

But not everyone at Railfest was there for the games or the music. Logan Hayes, 8, of Johnstown, explained why his family comes to Railfest.

“They like to look at the crafts,” he said. Hayes, however, enjoyed playing with a toy boat in the nearby Cayadutta Creek with some of his friends.

Pam Gibson, wife of Dave Gibson, one of the founders of Railfest, operated a vendor table Saturday for her online craft jewelry business, Gibson said she and her husband spent several years living on a boat on the intercoastal waterways of the Atlantic Ocean, and during that time she collected sea glass – fragments of glass washed up on beaches and eroded smooth by the ocean. Gibson takes the glass and makes it into jewelry. She said she was impressed by the turnout for at Railfest.

“I don’t know how it’s been the last few years, but it’s much bigger than the first one,” she said.

Bertos said he is already in the preliminary stages of planning the 10th Annual Railfest for next year, which he hopes will be the biggest in the history of the event. He said he’s looking for ways to draw a much larger crowd.

“We’re thinking about possibly combining it with a 5k race, as a way of having another anchor for it,” he said.