Both ends of the Amsterdam Mohawk River waterfront were alive with music and family activities last Saturday.
The Guy Park Manor historic site and river lock was celebrating the opening of the new location of the Walter Ellwood Museum on its grounds by hosting the annual Amsterdam Summerfest. Amid booths of games, food, crafts and face painting, kids could bounce, pet adoptable cats or tour the barge anchored near the lock. The museum itself was also open for tours of its historical and unusual contents, including an extensive taxidermy collection of animals such as grizzly and polar bears, leopards, walrus and exotic birds including a bald eagle. (Hmmm… taxidermy seems to be a continuing theme this summer.) There were several antique Edison record and cylinder players, and one could easily imagine Nipper cocking his head in fascination.
In addition, there was music outdoors at the gazebo, courtesy of country & western music veteran Marty Wendell, a native of Ticonderoga.
Backed by a band that included his son and daughter, Wendell revisited such C&W classics as “Hey Hey Mama,” “An Ode To Burtis Dean” and “Bring The Circus Back To Town.” Wendell first toured with Johnny Cash in 1968, and he also hosted a long-running country music festival at Round Lake that started back in the ’70s.
Meanwhile, about a mile east along the Mohawk River at Riverlink Park, Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys were the first band to play under the site’s new bandshell.
The shell is the latest in a continuing series of upgrades of the Amsterdam Riverfront that, when completed, should compare nicely with similar waterfront parks in such local communities as Scotia, Albany and Troy. The river-spanning walkway, which will connect to the bike trail on the south side of Amsterdam, should be a real
Despite the construction and the busy railroad tracks, the Riverlink Concert Series had one of its biggest crowds of the season so far.
Gaudet and his band – bassist Bob Ristau, fiddler Tim Wechgelaer and mandolinist Sten Isachsen – picked and sang their way through a collection of songs culled Gaudet’s bluegrass-flavored CDs “Recalling It Quits,” “So Far So Good” and the new “No Questions Asked.” Particularly appropriate was their rousing take on “Railroad Bill.”
And the day was capped off with a fireworks display back at Guy Park Manor.
Review and photographs by Stanley Johnson