Free fun for all at festival Saturday

W hitehall’s business community is coming together to offer local residents an evening of autumn fun, and it’s completely free.

The second annual Fall Free Festival will be held from4to7 p.m.on Saturday in theSkenesboroughParkand will feature entertainment, children’s activities, food and several thousand dollars in giveaways.

“The focus is on the music and local not-for-profit groups,” said businessman Chris La Flamme, who organized last year’s inaugural event and returns this year. “It shows the community we care.”

La Flamme said organizers have invited a number of local not-for-profit organizations to participate and in the process raise some money for their respective causes. For instance, local Boy Scout Troop 83 will sell food; Sea Harbor Tavern will sell some of its fare to raise funds for the Whitehall Food Pantry and the Skene Manor will be assisting the Chamber of Commerce with its Main Street Sign initiative.

Joining them are more than a dozen local businesses and organizations that have pooled their resources to make the event happen.

“Chris did it last year on his own; it was his brainchild and he approached us looking for businesses who might be willing to share in the event,” Bethe Reynolds, Chamber president said. “We’ve had a wonderful response from local businesses.”

“The morale and support that has been shown this year have been great,” La Flamme said.

Approximately 300 people attended last year’s event and organizers are hoping to attract as many as 600 people this year.

Several thousand dollars in giveaways may just help organizers reach that number.

“The thing that really brings the people in is the prizes,” La Flamme said.

Each of the businesses who are sponsoring the event was asked to contribute goods or services to be given away. During last year’s festival more than $3,000 in goods and services were given away and this year appears poised to be similar.

Joe’s Pizza, McLeod’s Lumber and Hardware, Dockside Jeweler, Adirondack Natural Stone, Stan’s TV and Appliance, Brown Dog Auction Company and J&D Fuel Co. are just a few of the local businesses that have contributed upwards of $200 in goods to be given away.

Although popular, giveaways are but one small part of the festival.

There will also be plenty of food and refreshments. The Boy Scouts will be serving up a variety of food, including hot dogs and other grilled delicacies and Sea Harbor Tavern will be serving fare from their Oktoberfest menu.

And then there’s dessert.

The Chamber and the Skene Manor are partnering to hold the ever popular and always delicious Cake (and pies as well) Roulette Raffle.

For a small fee, patrons can spin the wheel and walk away with whatever dish chance provides.

Proceeds from the cake raffle will benefit the Main Street Sign Initiative.

Earlier this summer the Chamber unveiled a “Welcome to Whitehall” sign on Route 22 and would eventually like to install similar signs at each entry to the village.

Reynolds said any money generated this weekend would be used toward the purchase of a sign for the downtown water-side business district.

There’s also expected to be a host of children’s activities. Organizers have rented a bouncy house and there may even be some face painting.

However the entertainment will be highlighted by live music from Box Car, featuring Mayor Peter Telisky.

The inaugural Fall Free Festival was held last September as a celebration of the opening of a La Flamme’s inWhitehalland was a chance for owners to give back to the community. After a successful debut, the event returns for a second year.

“The town responded to it so well last year that they decided to make it part of their annual schedule of events. It went from a La Flamme’s thing to aWhitehallthing. It was meant to be a community event and it’s really taken off,” La Flamme said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

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