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Hobofest evolves — a little

August 30, 2012
By PETER CROWLEY - Managing Editor ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - So what'll be new at Hobofest this year? Well, the loose-ends day of free live music, now in its fourth year, has taken a few small steps toward professionalism - but don't expect that to change it much.

Peter Seward of Lake Placid and Todd Smith of Saranac Lake founded the fest in 2009, inviting their musician friends, plus ethnomusicological legend John Cohen, to play for free on the lawn between Smith's art gallery and the Union Depot train station. The only revenue they got came from T-shirt sales.

That model didn't change much in 2010 and 2011, but this year they have a slightly bigger budget to work with, as Seward explained in a recent phone interview.

The most noticeable additions will be a tent, in case the weather gets rainy, and an all-day food vendor - Eat 'n' Meet Grill and Larder, making the short trip from its Upper Broadway restaurant to serve up a variety of chow throughout the afternoon and evening.

Behind the scenes, this will be the first year that Hobofest's musical performers all get paid, thanks to a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. In the past, Hobofest has given some money to some visiting acts, but now it'll be across the board.

But these public funds aren't enough to book Baby Gramps from Seattle. That, the tent and a few scattered advertisements are possible because Smith and Seward have been able to rope in a bit more in donations, now that Hobofest is under the 501(c)3 nonprofit umbrella of Adirondack Sustainable Communities, a relatively new organization that also covers Saturday's Farm 2 Fork food festival and the Adirondack Green Circle.

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One more new perk this year - Cape Air has donated airline tickets to be raffled off onstage.

Seward said he and Smith are trying to capture the same thing some local businesspeople are after - the Adirondack "terroir," a wine term meaning the qualities of earth that give grapes regional distinction.

"It's something we're grappling for with Hobofest," Seward said. "Even though we didn't have real hobos passing through the region, the festival is trying to embrace some of the thorniness of our community, that there's people of all economic strata in the community.

"Hobofest is not only accessible to everybody, but sort of embraces what might be seen as a negative."

That's where the eccentric Baby Gramps fits in perfectly, Seward said.

"Even though people don't know his name ... people will look at him and (see) that he belongs here."


If you go...


What: Hobofest music festival

When: Sunday, Sept. 2

Where: Union Depot, Depot Street, Saranac Lake

How much: Free admission; food will be sold by Eat and Meet Grill and Larder


Sunday's lineup


NoonSteve Langdon (Saranac Lake)
12:40 p.m.The Lemmon Drops (Saranac Lake)
1:20Quinn Sands (Cleveland)
2Stan Oliva Band (Keene)
3Bram and Jayne (Corning)
3:30Crackin’ Foxy (Saranac Lake)
4:30Eddy and Kim Lawrence (Moira)
5:45Big Slyde (Lake Placid)
7Baby Gramps (Seattle)
8:15Frankenpine (Brooklyn)
9:15Theresa Hartford (Saranac Lake)
9:30Blind Owl Band (Saranac Lake)



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