Sunday, June 21, 2009


TROY — River Street was a colorful collaboration of music, food, arts and services with a healthy dose of street performers during the annual River Street Festival.

Even the rain held off until late afternoon.

The event, sponsored by the city, Downtown Collaborative and the Arts Center of the Capital Region, was a family- friendly day celebrating the city and its people with the crowds enjoying the festivities that had a decidedly grassroots arts and antiques theme.

Since 2004, the city and the River Street merchants have held the River Street Festival to help highlight all that downtown Troy has to offer, most importantly the distinctive businesses located up and down River Street.

Members of the Uncle Sam Memorial Foundation greeted visitors with brochures outlining the project for which the foundation is raising money. With donations and grant money from the city and the state Senate, interpretive markers will be installed along the Uncle Sam trail.

Diane Caird, Jennifer Fisher, and Marjorie Dergurahian, had T-shirts for sale and copies of a map outlining other city projects dedicated to highlighting Troy’s distinct history. Caird, foundation director, said “in a couple of months we will be installing trail markers featuring Uncle Sam and all of the important work he did in Troy.”

In addition, committee member Marjorie Dergurahian said, “We (the foundation) exist, to promote the legacy of Sam Wilson.”

The group works to educate the citizens about Sam Wilson and how he came to personify Uncle Sam.

In 1961 The 87th Congress acknowledged Sam Wilson, a Troy butcher, as the progenitor of America's national symbol of Uncle Sam. An American icon, Uncle Sam represents the United States throughout the world.

In addition, the merchandise of merchants along River Street spilled out onto the street, enticing visitors to step inside the shops for a closer look.

The street itself was teeming with artisans of all types, from glassblowers, to jewelry makers, to crafters making one-of-a-kind items and vendors offering every kind of food a person could want.

Diane Simpson, one of the owners of Chrysalis Holistic Health Counseling of Troy Healing was offering full body and chair massages.

The Troy Co-op had a booth where reusable totes were on sale and informational brochures were being given out outlining the offerings and goals since the inception of the co-op in 2005.

Allison Dragotto, a member and volunteer was drumming up membership for the co-op which plans to open in the old Pioneer Grocery Store on Congress and Fourth streets.

The establishment will serve the downtown community, offering a mix of organic and specialty foods with traditional grocery items and freshly prepared foods for dinners and lunches.

“We’d like to be open every day, she said.

The building has the capacity to make a large store with fresh, frozen and prepared fare with a space for a café.

The stage set up near Monument Square was the venue on which entertainers, including Cracker, Mike Doughty, Rob Dickinson and Chris Barron, performed, each drawing huge crowds.

A second stage of local musicians featured bands like Trouble, Imagining Lennon, Maurizio and Brittany Robichaud, The Dirties, Julia Ilowiecki and the Chris Busone Band.

With the mystifying magic of Jeffrey Jene and the artistry of a balloon sculptor and a cup of freshly-squeezed lemonade and a hot sandwich thrown in, what more could you ask for?

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