COXSACKIE — The village of Coxsackie used its Riverside Festival on Saturday to promote the Hoot of the Owl Gala for charity while people from all over enjoyed the crafts, food and activities.
The Riverside Festival, held downtown at Riverside Park, featured crafts makers, food vendors, live music and carnival rides for the children.
The village was also giving free steamboat rides on the Hudson River.
In the midst of all the excitement, the village promoted and sold tickets for the Hoot of the Owl Gala it will be holding Sept. 30, at which the village will auction off 52 owl statues decorated by artists for a public art project. The owl was chosen because it is the symbol of Coxsackie. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to various groups.
“It is believed that the word ‘Coxsackie’ was a Native American word that meant ‘hoot of the owl,’” said Joe Ellis, a village trustee and organizer of the public art project. “We wanted something that would bring visitors in, promote the village and capitalize on our town symbol, the owl. We decided to do what Catskill did with the cats.”
The village sought sponsors to acquire owl statues and garnered support from 52 sponsors donating $500 each.
Proceeds from the auction in September will go to five groups: the Police Athletic League, the Coxsackie Food Pantry, Friends of the Library, Sleepy Hollow Helping Hands and the C-A Scholarship.
The village promoted the gala by showcasing one of the statues, an owl painted red, white and blue in the style of an American Flag, called, “Freedom,” as well as live owls handled by Whispering Willow Wild Care, from Schenectady.
The village was also selling mugs and T-shirts for the charity.
During the festival, Coxsackie Hose Co. No. 3 was raising money by selling hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and raffle tickets.
“We are holding three raffles today. One is the Lady’s Auxiliary Company’s raffle, one is for three guns and another is for two people who will get to ride in the tower truck to watch the fireworks,” said Jim Vanwagner, vice president of the hose company. “This festival is one of our best fundraisers.”
Vanwagner said the company has been cooking for the Riverside Festival for more than 40 years.
The company will also be out on Route 385 near Cumberland Farms on Aug. 19 from 8 a.m. to noon collecting donations.
“We are raising money because we are hosting the Greene County Firefighters Convention in 2019,” Vanwagner said. “We also use the money to pay for things we need, such as equipment.”
Peter Hegyi, of New Jersey, said he did not realize at first that the Hudson River was right there by the park.
“I didn’t realize that was the Hudson River, it’s beautiful,” Hegyi said. “This festival has a little bit of everything, and that’s a good test of a festival; if it has something for everyone.”
Millian Kellam, 91, of Hannacroix, said she has been coming to the Riverside Festival every year since it began.
“I am getting too old for this. I do not stay for the fireworks these days,” Kellam said. “For a little town like this have a festival like this is great.”
Carlton Brockett, of Coxsackie, said he maintains the park for the village.
“This festival gets better every year. It is good revenue for the village. The kids are enjoying it and that’s what matters,” Brockett said. “The music and food is good, and you see people you know. This village is our little world.”