There were nearly as many umbrellas as there were flowers at Albany’s 69th annual Tulip Festival on Saturday, but the light rain didn’t stop throngs of people from enjoying the colorful scenery and taking part in one of the Capital District’s premier yearly events.
“Nothing is going to put a damper on what we’re about to do today,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan from the stage at the Washington Park boathouse.
The crowd was eagerly awaiting to see who would be crowned Tulip Queen, and moments later Sheehan announced that Ashley Loggins of Albany had won the honor. Loggins, 23, recently graduated from Clarkson University where she became the all time leading scorer and rebounder on the girls basketball team, according to her father, Bob Loggins.
“It’s an awesome day for us,” said Bob Loggins. “I’m really proud of her, she got involved in this for the community service aspect and it turns out she won.”
The Tulip Queen and four other nominees will spend the rest of the year promoting literacy programs in area schools. Loggins thanked her fellow nominees, as well as her mother, who had passed away.
“I wish she could be here with me, but she has the best seat in the house and it’s not raining up there,” said Loggins.
Sheehan said later that while she wishes the weather cooperated a bit more, it didn’t surprise her that people still flocked to Washington Park.
“Notwithstanding a little bit of rain we still had a lot of people who came out to see the crowning of the Tulip Queen, we have great food, great vendors, and I met people who said a little bit of rain wouldn’t keep them away,” said Sheehan. “You come into the park and you see these amazing tulips and wonderful vendors, and you get the aroma of all of this great food, and the excitement builds. So you put up your umbrella, and it’s still a wonderful day in the park.”
Out in the tulip fields, JoAnn Krudyg and Andrea LaPlace were taking in the flowers, many of which they were not familiar with.
“We’re enjoying the different varieties that we’ve never seen before, these aren’t like the ones in the garden,” said Krudyg.
She and LaPlace were at Tulip Fest for the first time, having hopped on a chartered bus from Paramus, NJ.
“I would’ve preferred to let the rain stop us, but now that I’m here I’m glad I came,” said LaPlace.
Linda Barbadoro of Stockbridge, MA, was at Tulip Fest as a vendor with her company, Serenity Bamboo Flutes. The company specializes in handmade walking stick flutes that are used for hiking and for playing a tune at the top of the mountain.
“We’ve been here for several years, I love this spot, I love the whole Albany area,” said Barbadoro, who was also unfazed by the rain. “We’ve been here in the rain, we’ve been here in the cold, when it’s so hot you just want to die, and we’ve found that people come out no matter what. We didn’t even hesitate when we heard it was going to rain, we knew people were going to come out.”
Tulip Festival runs through Sunday afternoon, with food, craft vendors, live music and, of course, tulips. Musical acts on the main stage Sunday include Holly and Evan at 1:30 p.m., Erin Harkes at 3 p.m., and The Delfonics at 4 p.m. For more information visit www.albany.com.