With more than 50,000 people in attendance and vendors lining the streets selling merchandise and promoting their businesses, Albany’s 37th annual Larkfest was a huge success. Larkfest is a day-long street festival that happens annually at the start of the fall season, on Lark Street, located in the Capital Region. From local businesses setting up tents and enticing customers to buy things like hand-weaved baskets, clothing and paintings, to bars being open all day long while live music plays on both ends of the streets, Larkfest has a little something for everyone.
I’m a fraud – it’s my senior year at Siena and this year was my first Larkfest. But it tends to be one of the favorite things to do in the area among Siena students. Emily Rhoades ’19 agrees, saying, “I’ve had so much fun going to Larkfest every year. It’s cool to see all the local crafts and artwork. It’s definitely something I’ll miss after graduating.” It’s hard to pass up a free festival with drinks and music. Both ends of the street have a stage where live music is performed all day long. On the Madison Avenue stage, you had performances by the Ryan Leddick Trio, Bendt, Mirk, Kimono Dragons, JB & Victory Soul Orchestra and The Age. On the opposite end of the street, Becoming a Ghost, Onlyness, Greens, Apostrophe S, Useless Cans and Stellar Young all put on a show. There was a huge focus on new music during the festival this year, made clear by these local talents being able to perform for a huge crowd.
To add to the music playing for everyone’s enjoyment, there were countless food vendors on both sides of the street. Food trucks were everywhere, selling things like crab cake sandwiches, mac and cheese and tacos, and the list goes on. Name another street festival that has a truck selling a bucket of homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk to go with it? Pretty hard to do. If a food truck isn’t up your alley, all of the restaurants and bars typically a part of the street’s scene were open all day long. Bombers Burrito Bar was a favorite place to stop in during the day, but places like LAX or Cafe Hollywood saw huge crowds as well.
If free music and bars being open all day long weren’t enough, tons of vendors selling a large variety of items were set up for crowds to peruse. One of the most eye-catching vendors was a tent full of handmade weaved items like baskets, hats and vases. There were vendors selling blankets, clothes, sunglasses, plants and the like, and most vendors had no problem getting curious crowds to take a look.
Much attention on Larkfest 2018 focused on the shift from a street festival where college kids go to party all day to a more family-friendly event. There were kids and families everywhere and multiple kid zones with activities. Going along with this newfound approach, Larkfest was a grand opening for all of the new local businesses on the street, as the area is attempting to move away from solely being a street with bars and restaurants, to a place blooming with new types of businesses and stores. Larkstreetbid.org mentions that the area has introduced 20 new businesses since the last Larkfest, so it really gives these new vendors a chance to show off to the influx of college students to the area.
So, while it is an excuse to get off campus for the day and have fun with your friends, Larkfest was also a day for local businesses and talent to get their names and faces out to the general public, as school is back in session which brings thousands of young people back to the area. A day of music, drinks, food and fun was the perfect way to do it.