The Amsterdam Free Library is hosting its first fundraising event in years this weekend.
The Festival of Windmills will take place tonight and Saturday at St. Mary’s Institute.
The highlight of the festival will be an auction of 4-foot wooden windmills handmade by an Amish craftsman and hand-painted by community artists.
The event is also a celebration of the city’s Dutch heritage. A handful of lectures begin at 11 a.m. on different aspects of Dutch culture and history.
The lecture series has a topic for everyone, said Robin Kappler, head of the Festival of Windmills planning committee. Fulton County Historian Peter Betz will give a lecture on Clarissa Putnam, Sir John Johnson’s first love; The Rev. Siegfried Ignecia will discuss the Dutch influence on the island of Curacao; and local resident Henry Mars will talk about living in Holland during the Nazi occupation and what Holland is like today.
Besides lectures, the Festival of Windmills will take on a carnival atmosphere with 30 different vendors selling jewelry, doll clothes, handbags, soap, knitted items, dog biscuits and hand-painted furniture, among many other items.
There will also be a silent auction with what Kappler called “generous donations” including gift certificates, clothing items, cosmetics and jewelry, and of course the 40 miniature windmills.
A preview party is scheduled tonight for ticket holders. Kappler said about 200 people are expected. Saturday’s festivities are free.
“I’m hoping for hundreds of people,” Kappler said.
The library hasn’t organized a major fundraiser in years. It used to run the Festival of Trees each Christmas, but the Century Club took over the event and benefits from the proceeds.
The library has lost thousands in revenue in the last year, according to director Jane Getty. It saw a $40,000 drop this year because donors are giving less due to the recent recession. Also state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, was unable to contribute state money to the library this year because his party is no long in the Senate majority. He typically had been able to give $25,000.
On top of that, the city’s 2010-2011 proposed budget contributes $20,000 less to the library than the current year.
The money raised during the Festival of Windmills will go toward the purchase of books, CDs, DVDs and other materials for the library.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic,” Getty said. “It’s something very different. You often see chicken barbecues or basket raffles, but this is something that has a little bit for everyone.”