Patrick Muldoon sat in the grass along a soccer field, attempting to eat cheese-and-bacon-covered ribbon chips as his daughters, ages 2 and 6, climbed all over him like a jungle gym.
“Mom’s off getting fried dough,” the 37-year-old Niskayuna computer programmer said. “I’m getting beat up.”
Muldoon, who brought his family to the 33rd annual Niska-Day at Craig Elementary School, was glad to let them climb as the sun shone brightly over the festival grounds.
“It’s great,” he said. “We come every year.”
Asked why, he looked up at his 6-year-old, whose legs were wrapped around his neck, and asked her, “Hey, Miya, why do we come every year?”
“So we can win fish!” she said. About 40 nonprofits, 40 businesses, 35 crafters, 15 vendors, a variety of entertainers and a few amusement rides took over the school’s lawns for the event, which had a tropical theme this year. Festival-goers were given leis to wear around their necks, and steel-drum bands and hula dancers also reminded them of the island theme.
“We have a couple steel-drum bands,” said Jay Rourke, the event's entertainment chair. “This evening, we’re going to have the Tropical Beat Steel Band -- they’re just coming back from doing a tour in Trinidad.”
The event is put on by the Niskayuna Community Action Program and planned by a team of 25 volunteers. It starts with a parade, ends with fireworks and has no rain date.
“I think it’s going amazing, actually,” said Denise Leader, who co-chairs the event with her husband, Bill. “We were very fortunate with the weather. We were a little worried last night, but I think right now, we couldn’t ask for much better than this.
“Not too hot, no rain. Perfect.”
Leader was also pleased with the turnout, as families packed the grounds throughout the day. The event typically brings out 5,000 to 6,000 people, she said.
Niskayuna High School sophomores Eve Presler and Melissa Stuart were also happy with the crowds as they sold cotton candy under a tent for the Key Club.
“We’ve had a lot of people,” Presler, 16, said. “Cotton candy flying everywhere.”
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All the proceeds from their sales were going to Special Olympics New York.
“It’s really great to come to Niska-Day, to have a booth here to raise money, because pretty much the entire town is here,” Presler said.
At the next tent over, town Supervisor Joe Landry gathered with other Niskayuna Democrats.
“This is a great community event,” said Landry, who had his son’s 2-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, Rebel, with him on a leash. “This is something that we, as a community, Niskayuna, we look forward to this every year.”