A couple years ago, I wrote and published the third of my three book series about the history of Amsterdam, NY. I called it Fifty Amsterdam, NY Top Ten Lists and and one of the lists I included in it was “Amsterdam’s All-Time Top Ten Traditions”.
The problem with this particular topic was that it was impossible for me to limit my writing to just ten traditions, so I expanded my universe by creating sub-topics. For example, I labeled one “Summertime Traditions” which permitted me to include; City Playgrounds, a nostalgic look at the City’s history of swimming pools, the Summer plays put on by the Recreation Department and more.
The newest Summer tradition I included at the time was the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation’s Summer Concert Series at Riverlink Park. At the time I wrote it, the one and only Paul Gavry was still in charge of the program and doing a masterful job. Here’s how I described the concerts in my book: “The program these folks have put together to provide free Saturday evening concerts down at this city’s Riverlink Park is one of the best things to happen in this community EVER! The AWF, working with the resources available to it, somehow brings incredible musical talent from all over this country to that canopied stage down by the mighty Mohawk all summer long. It may not be SPAC but its working and its all ours! And guess what? The news of how great these concerts are, is spreading well beyond our community and the park is starting to fill up to capacity on those balmy beautiful Saturday summer evenings. And now that the pedestrian bridge has made getting to this venue a much more pleasant (but still very long) summer stroll, there really are very few nicer or more entertaining ways to spend a Saturday evening. Thanks to the AWF, Riverlink Park’s Summer Concert Series has already become one of Amsterdam’s all-time great summer traditions.”
Then this past winter, I received a text message from the Foundation’s new co-president Pam Frollo Swart. She asked if I wanted to join the group’s advisory board. She informed me that Paul Gavry had resigned as president of the Foundation so the board was literally starting from scratch. When I learned Paul had left I felt an obligation to help keep what had become a great Amsterdam tradition going so I asked Pam who else was on board, what the responsibilities were, how often they met and told her I needed to attend a couple of meetings to figure out if I could make a real contribution.
Boy am I glad I decided to go. I became part of a group of a dozen or so individuals who came together for one reason. We wanted to continue the effort to make the Saturday Concert Series an even better entertainment option for the Amsterdam community and to draw record amounts of people to visit the City’s beautiful waterfront attractions.
It wasn’t easy but I think most folks who got down to Riverlink Park for one or more of the Foundation’s concerts this summer will agree that we succeeded. There were certainly obstacles, including sudden humungous rainstorms, stiff Saturday night competition on the Schenectady Waterfront and a closed parking garage but thanks to the Amsterdam community, a whole bunch of generous sponsors, Dan Nelli’s efforts, the creative band booking talent of Board co-president Sonnet Gravina and the cooperation and support from the City and County, the Summer of ’19 Concert Series offered something for everyone and was one of the best, if not the best attended in the history of that beautiful waterfront stage. I can’t say enough good things about my fellow AWF Board members. They’ve devoted hundreds of hours of their own time to help organize, plan and pull of the finished products this year. I’m honored to work with them.
But guess what! It is time to start doing it again next year and you can help. How?
The Foundation counts on a $4,500 contribution from the City of Amsterdam and a $5,000 contribution from Montgomery County to help us keep the Concerts free to the public, and we are extremely grateful for every penny of these contributions of public money. The truth is however, that it cost almost three times that amount to present this Summer’s Saturday evening events and it will again next year.
Where do we get the rest of the needed money? We have a generous group of area businesses and organizations who sponsor our events. We pass the “hat” at every concert and our attendees have been generous with their donations. We also have an annual fundraiser.
This year’s Foundation fundraiser happens to be this Saturday, August 31 and its taking place at the last concert in this Summer’s series. We’re calling it our Labor Day 80’s Weekend Blowout!
It begins at 5PM and features TWO outstanding bands; Lights Out & Little Queen. Amsterdam’s Lights Out delivers great classic rock and Syracuse’s Little Queen performs the music of Heart & Pat Benatar. Meanwhile, Dan Nelli, who runs Riverside Restaurant and Dan’s Backyard Barbecue has graciously offered to donate a delicious full-course barbecue meal, which the Foundation will sell Concert goers that night for just $10 per person. We’ve also collected about $2,000 worth of gift cards and products from area businesses and organizations which will be raffled off that night as well.
So all we’re asking you to do is show up hungry with a ten dollar bill and we will feed you and also entertain you for five solid hours. It is the absolute best deal in town this weekend and you’ll be helping to ensure the Foundation’s Summer of 2020 Concert Series will be better than ever! I hope to see you there!