There are two great Albany annual traditions that I try to attend. The one coming up is Larkfest on September 20. the other is The Tulip Festival, a/k/a Pinksterfest. Once upon a time I used to live between Washington Park, where the Tulip Festival is held, and Lark street (guess what’s held there?), and I could easily walk to both events. Now, less than three miles away, but a different calculation.
I think the venues really determine the differences. For Pinksterfest, the city gardener carefully plants varieties of tulips so that at least some of them will be coming into bloom on Mother’s Day weekend. This year, Carol, Lydia, and I were going to go to the Festival on that Saturday afternoon after attending a child’s birthday party, but we could find no parking whatsoever, so my wife let me out of the car and I traipsed into Washington Park. I got to see my requisite half dozen people I only seem to see once a year, including those in social activism row. I could hear the sounds of the Spin Doctors playing familiar tunes, yet I ended up passing on them in favor of the sounds of a band called 10 (something), a local band that apparently played popular cover songs. They were doing a tune called “Jump,” for instance, which all the kids were dancing to, but it was neither the Van Halen nor the Pointer Sisters versions that I was familiar with. I knew it was a cover version only because I asked someone in the audience – which can tell you how out of it I can really be musically.
For LarkFest, the merchants (and the church) on the street seem to be the prime beneficiaries of the thousands of people who gather there, although there are other vendors. While both claim to be family-friendly, the anti-open booze container law seems to be violated even more often at LarkFest. Also, the park is green space, while the Lark street event is far more physically constricted, which gives it a certain vitality, among the shoving.
The key: go early.