A Strong Stand

FORT PLAIN – Haslett Park was filled Saturday afternoon with families listening to music and eating local food during the second “Standing Strong: A River Through Time” festival.

The festival was a benefit to raise funds for the flood recovery effort in the village.

Tolga Morawski, treasurer for the Mohawk Valley Collective, said the festival was originally planned in March 2013 as a way to celebrate the history of the village.

In June 2013, however, water rose on the Otsquago Creek by several feet, causing flooding throughout the village. The flooding claimed the life of Ethel Healey, 87, who lived on Reid Street and whose house was washed away. Hundreds of volunteers came to the village to help with recovery efforts.

The event, Morawski said, was then repurposed as a way to raise funds for those still recovering. Last year’s festival succeeded in raising around $3,100 to help the village recover, and Morawski hopes to exceed that amount this year.

“There are people still recovering from the flood,” Morawski said.

Richard and Lisa Catarino, New Jersey residents, were visiting family in Fort Plain and stopped to listen to the music. Lisa Catarino said her mother, Linda Scaffidi-Fonti, had her business damaged by the flooding. Lisa Catarino said she had an outsider’s perspective, but felt the village had recovered.

“[Mom’s] store is doing well, I know she recovered; I know other places have recovered, if not doing better,” Catarino said.

Music filled the air as local performers Cleen Street, Rumpus, Shawn Marosek and Emeralds of July played throughout the afternoon. Raffle tickets were sold for items including hunting gear, bikes, kayaks and a Wii U video game console. Hot dogs, homemade french fries and a chicken barbeque provided food for more than 50 guests moving around the park.

Cyndi Tracy, an assistant volunteer coordinator with Fulton-Montgomery Long-Term Recovery Committee, which had a booth set up at the festival, said the village has recovered well, but work still remains on demolishing condemned homes in the village.

“We are 92 percent done, I would say, excluding the tear-downs,” Tracy said.

The turnout, Tracy said, was slow in the early afternoon, but she expected more as the event went on.