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Athens street festival returns for its 44th year

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Visitors enjoy the 43rd annual Athens Street Festival, July 11, 2017.
July 12, 2018 11:34 pm

ATHENS — Organizers, vendors and residents are gearing up for the 44th annual Athens Street Festival on Saturday, which packs the village with thousands of visitors and locals for family-friendly summer events.

The Athens Street Festival, scheduled for July 14, from 10 a.m. to after 10 p.m., runs along Second Street, Water Street, and Athens Riverfront Park, where bands are set to play on a stage near the Hudson River.

The event, organized by the nonprofit committee Athens Street Festival, draws thousands of people every year from Albany, New York City, the Hudson Valley and the immediate area, Athens Street Festival Treasurer Monty Jordan said. This year’s full schedule of events includes a dinosaur-themed Paper Hat Parade — a mainstay of the festival for four decades — an antique car show, boat tours to the Athens Lighthouse, fireworks, live music, food vendors, raffle drawings, games, a magic show and more.

Adults can enjoy a new wine tasting booth while children can explore the petting zoo, balloon art exhibit, face painting and games at Second Street and Franklin Street. Several food vendors will be keeping the crowd well-fed, including Mexican food, fresh fruit, booths from local restaurants and pizza galore, Jordan said.

The fire department has cooked for the street festival for 25 years, Athens Fire Chief Adam Greco said at last year’s festival. Firefighters donate the money they raise to various charitable efforts in the community.

“This event carries us throughout the year,” Greco said last year. “We use this money to give back to the community. We give some to the Little League, some to the Edward J. Arthur Elementary School’s Secret Santa event.”

The festival, which does not charge an admission fee, is mostly funded by sponsors such as the Athens Generating Plant, National Bank of Coxsackie, Town of Athens and Village of Athens, Stewart’s Shops, Lake and Mountain Realty, and others. In addition, proceeds from the raffle go toward the Community Giveback Program, which has a sign for local organizations to advertise their community events.

“The community really chips in,” Jordan said. “It’s well organized. The town closes down for the day and it brings a lot of traffic.”

Visitors can pick up a festival guidebook when they arrive, which includes a schedule, map of the town and village, and parking areas. For visitors who have trouble walking, gold cart shuttles will be zooming about for rides, Jordan said.

Saturday looks to be mainly sunny with a high near 86 and a slight chance of a thunderstorm in the late afternoon and evening, according to the National Weather Service in Albany.

The event-filled day ends with fireworks starting around 9 p.m.