LarkFest is going through a culture change.
It’s still a popular festival, bringing in around 80,000 people every year. But it’s shifting focus from being a place to party hard to a place for adults, families and kids to enjoy local music, vendors and food.
“Festival doesn’t mean party,” said Dan Atkins, organizer of LarkFest and co-founder of the Savoy Taproom.
Last year, they added kid zones with activities running for kids all day. They’ll be even more for kids to do this year with an additional kid zone.
“We’ve worked really hard to keep it family friendly,” Atkins said.
They’re also keeping the stages filled with local musicians this year.
The Ryan Leddick Trio Band will be taking the stage at the Madison Ave Stage at 11:15 a.m. With their acoustic rock sound, they’ve become a festival favorite. The rest of the afternoon, the Madison Ave stage will feature Brendt, Mirk, Kimono Dragoons, JB & Victory Soul Orchestra and The Age.
Then, on the Spring St. stage, Becoming the Ghost kicks things off at 11 a.m. followed by Onlyness, Greens, Apostrophe S, Useless Cans and Stellar Young. It’s a mix of pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B. Though they don’t necessarily have a headlining act per se, Atkins feels lineup is really strong, not to mention locally-focused.
But it’s not only the music that’s going hyper-local.
“As Lark Street goes so does LarkFest,” Atkins said.
Over the last year, nearly two dozen new businesses have opened on the street, including a Poke Bar, Byron & Gill Mercantile, Center Square Barber Shop, Yamaguchie, Neon Dog and others. It’s brought variety to a street that was mostly known only for its bars and restaurants.
“This is our time to shine,” Atkins said. “It’s our Black Friday.”
LarkFest gives these businesses a bit of the exposure that they’re missing during the summer months. According to Atkins, the street doesn’t tend to be very busy during those months. But as soon as fall hits and college students come back to the area, things start to pick up, with LarkFest weekend usually being the first that the businesses on Lark Street really see an uptick in business.
It can make a big difference for these businesses, especially those just starting out.
“We’re all exclusively small businesses,” Atkins said. According to the Lark Street Business Improvement District, the businesses on Lark Street employ around 600 people.
Because of the new mix of businesses, Atkins is hoping that LarkFest will attract even more of a variety of people.
“The community is seeing where LarkFest is going,” Atkins said.
The festival runs from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. For more information visit albanylarkfest.com.
Madison Ave Stage
11:15 a.m. - Ryan Leddick Trio
12 p.m. - Bendt
12:50 p.m. - Mirk
2 p.m. - Kimono Dragons
3:10 p.m. - JB & Victory Soul Orchestra
4:20 p.m. - The Age
Spring St. Stage
11 a.m. - Becoming A Ghost
11:40 a.m. - Onlyness
12:15 p.m. - Greens
1:20 p.m. - Apostrophe S
2:40 p.m. - Useless Cans
3:45 p.m. - Stellar Young