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Hope Rocks Festival in Saugerties

August 14, 2018 01:21 pm

SAUGERTIES — More than 6,000 people are expected to attend the second annual Hope Rocks Festival on Aug. 18-19, 2018, at the Cantine Veteran’s Memorial Complex, Saugerties, double the number of attendees at the inaugural 2017 Hope Rocks Festival. Free and open to all, the 2018 Hope Rocks Festival continues to offer a weekend of hope to those suffering with addiction, depression and suicide.

Hope Rocks Festival strives to shine a light on the darkness and despair of addiction and suicide with onsite counseling, speakers presenting their personal addiction experiences and a myriad of activities, including:

• approximately 40 live musical performances across multiple stages and wide spectrum of musical genres, including festival highlighters Grammy Award winner Mike Farris (Saturday) and Wild Adriatric (Sunday);

• a motorcycle “rumble”;

• softball; volleyball; basketball; tennis; pickleball; human foosball; and,

• art exhibition and crafters.

New to the 2018 festival is a:

• Hope Walk walk-athon;

• 20-mile and 5-mile Tour de Hope bike-a-thon, which opens the festival;

• children’s area with a petting zoo and other attractions; and,

• a t-shirt design contest.

Hope Rocks began last year after founder Joe Defino, Saugerties life-long resident and elementary school teacher, experienced in less than four years 11 of his former students dying from suicide stemming from addiction and despair. That number has grown to 13 former students in 2018. With festival sponsors including the Sawyer Automotive Foundation, Sunshine Orthodontics, Ulster Savings Bank and Raising Your Awareness about Narcotics (RYAN) among others, Defino and some 70 volunteers—each of whom has experienced a loved one suffering with addiction and despair and some who have lost a loved one to suicide—offer an environment of acceptance and community at the festival.

“All who come through the festival gates this weekend are part of something special and are connected with each other,” said Defino. “Hope Rocks and all who participant positively battle this epidemic of death and despair. The problem of addiction and suicide continues to grow—and so does the need for Hope Rocks. Those suffering need to see that there is hope.”

Defino said the need for Hope Rocks is demonstrated in health statistics:

• according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the United States there is a suicide every 40 seconds—with 105 people dying daily from suicide;

• WHO reported that death from overdose caused more than 55,000 U.S. deaths in 2016; and,

• recently, the U.S. Center for Disease Control stated that opioid-related hospital emergency visits increased by 30 percent from July 2016-September 2017 and U.S. drug overdose deaths more than tripled from 1999 to 2015.

2018 Hope Rocks is Aug. 18, 2018, 12 p.m.-9 p.m. and Aug. 19, 2018, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.,

For more information, go to or email, as well as Hope Rocks Facebook and Instagram pages.