Farmers Market Hears A Loud Towne Crier - Market Almost Pushed Over - Public Cries To Keep As Is

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Drama just happened with the Beacon Farmers Market prior to its opening outside this May. The market is indoors all winter, then moves outside in the spring. This year, before signing a one-year lease renewal with the City of Beacon, the market was told by the City Council that it would need to move from its spot on Veterans Place, and set up instead down the street (several blocks west) at the county-owned DMV parking lot, which is a free municipal lot on weekends (and weekday evenings). The issues that emerged are a bit more involved than a simple move, and they warrant a discussion about how the vibe of living in Beacon is impacted by the Farmers Market. So, we’ll try to unpack it here.

PS: We can skip to the end to say that the Farmers Market IS open outdoors on Sundays right now at their same location on Veterans Place. But DO read through this article to learn more!

Brief Backstory

The Beacon Farmers Market operated down at the waterfront for many years. [Edit: 5/12/19] Prior to that, it operated on Veterans Place. Says a consumer, Erin Ann in social media: “I lived on Henry Street in the brick house across from [when the location was at Veterans Place]. I remember because [the location] was so convenient for me, and then I was sad when it moved to the waterfront.”

The waterfront location was a happy place to trek down to, but it was a trek. It was far, involved a steep hill, and limited parking in my experience - but people found their way down regardless. Some people, like Kelli Cavatelli, felt that parking worked there, as she stated in social media: “There was the entire train station parking lot. There was tons of parking. I never once had an issue parking at the waterfront. I do however find it difficult to park at the Veterans Place location. It is an awful location!!” Sales at the market have increased by 35 percent since the market moved from the waterfront back up to Veterans Place, despite the parking issue.

Parking on Main Street in Beacon on the weekend is virtually nonexistent, no matter how you slice it or where you are trying to go. The DMV parking lot is one of the only options for weekend parking on Main Street when the on-street parking spots are taken.

Three years ago, the Beacon Farmers Market proposed a move from the waterfront to Beacon’s Main Street. The best fit was found to be at Veterans Place, in-between the Post Office and the Towne Crier Cafe, and across from Beacon Natural Market. The goal was to give people easier access to the produce, food, gifts, music, and enjoyable atmosphere it created. It would return to the place where it was even before its waterfront location.

The market also began offering SNAP benefits, so that people with lower incomes could have access to fresh food. According to this article in the Highlands Current by Jeff Simms, “That allowed more people access, organizers said, and vendor sales increased 35 percent, with almost three times the number of low-income residents receiving discounted produce.” The move was a success, and more people accessed the market than ever before.

Originally, when the move was approved, both the Towne Crier and surrounding businesses including Beacon Natural Market (a direct competitor with produce sales) and More Good supported the decision. More Good even set up a vendor table there.

Customers supported the move: Beacon citizens, as well as people driving through Beacon or day tripping, backed up the decision with their spending habits. At the March 25, 2019 Workshop meeting in which the annual renewal of the market’s lease agreement with the City was discussed, as well as a possible move from Veterans Place to the DMV parking lot, Council Member Amber Grant pointed out: “When the Farmers Market moved to Main Street, there was more use of SNAP. It is a really important consideration, and one we should consider while keeping the Farmers Market accessible.”

For this renewal meeting, two letters of complaint were submitted as supporting documentation. However, when the Farmers Market manager, Paloma Wake, inquired as to who the complaints were from during the Workshop meeting, she was told to go to the City website to find out, where the letters were posted as supporting document PDFs.

Not having a laptop in front of her at the meeting, she couldn’t readily go find out who the letters were from or what they said. At some other meetings, the supporting letters are read aloud to help debate both sides. But they were not read this night. The letters referenced can be read and downloaded here. The letters were from Phil Ciganer, owner of Towne Crier, and Mai Jacobs, a Beacon resident, written to specifically support the Towne Crier’s position. Excerpts from Phil’s letter are below:

 

First, let me say again that I support local farms and farmers, and we purchase much of produce from them, so the concept of a "farmers market," with local producers and purveyors, was attractive to me when I was approached by Sara a couple of years ago, when she was soliciting support to relocate the market from the waterfront. I extended my support at that time; however, I also expressed my concern to her that, as my venue serves Sunday brunch and offers live music during the same time period as the farmers market, that there may be a conflict that would impact my business…

There were food vendors (from out of area and from out of state) as well as live music. And to add insult to injury, some people who buy food from the vendors end up sitting at our outdoor tables -- which are set up for OUR customers -- and many come inside to use our restroom facilities. Farmers market vendors with trucks/vans and patrons also fill the parking lot. For all these reasons, the farmers market has been hurting our business when it is in operation on Sundays. We rely on a large portion of our food sales and revenue on Saturday and Sunday…

For the reasons outlined above, I would ask the Council and the City of Beacon to reconsider renewing the permit on Veterans Place and consider an alternative location. Thank you.
(click here to read the full letter)

 

After the idea of moving the market from Veterans Place to the DMV parking lot was discussed at a City Council Workshop on March 25, 2019, at least 156 people as well as several surrounding businesses signed a petition in support of the farmers market staying put at Veterans Place.

Said Stacey Penlon, owner of Beacon Pantry, located nearly across the street from the market: “As a Main Street business owner and direct neighbor of the Market, I have seen that a thriving farmers market in the center of Beacon has been a great asset to the city and its businesses. Its proximity to the Farmers Market as well as my own business has served as a great hub of activity for the middle of Main Street, which has struggled to keep pace with our east and west ends. The farmers market and Beacon Pantry form a reciprocal relationship promoting great food and local commerce.”

Nearby Businesses In Support of Veterans Place Location

Pictured below are businesses who wrote in support of the Beacon Farmers Market staying put, citing that the market has helped their area of town have more activity. It should be noted that each business serves food. From left: Beacon Pantry (serves meals and sells pantry items), More Good (sells syrups, teas, and sometimes has a vendor table at the market in addition to their storefront), and Beacon Natural Market (sells produce, some prepared food, groceries).

Brainstorming The Move Of The Market - Take It To Workshop!

On March 25, 2019, the City Council held a Workshop meeting about what to do with the farmers market, based on Phil’s concerns, which you can listen to during his presentation during a Workshop on April 29, 2019. Ideas were debated by the City Council on what to do with the farmers market, with the one-sided consensus being that the farmers market would move to the DMV parking lot in one month. Representatives from the Beacon Farmers Market did not agree.

The funny thing about Workshop meetings is, plans that are discussed aren’t binding. The workshops are brainstorming sessions to discuss items officially put on their Agenda, to be discussed further. The next step after a Workshop is to have a “Resolution” about what was just discussed, which is when the members of the City Council and the Mayor vote Yay or Nay on that Resolution (aka, the decision they marched toward during the Workshop).

After the Workshop is held, the Resolution is put onto an Agenda for the next City Council meeting, where it is usually read out loud by the City Attorney. The council members might bite through a couple points, but if nothing changes, they vote how they are going to vote.

However, these votes can sometimes swing in an unexpected direction, like we saw with the Airbnb vote, where the council members were marching toward legalizing Airbnb-type short-term rentals after having gone through many drafts of writing the law. During the vote, they split, and did not all vote in favor of the law they had been writing, essentially tabling regulation of Airbnb-type short-term rentals.

Proposal And A Possible Vote

This part is key, because at the next non-binding Workshop on April 29, 2019, just days away from the May 5 opening of the 2019 season of the farmers market, no lease agreement had been signed between the Beacon Farmers Market at the City of Beacon. The City Council seemed confident that the farmers market would be moving to the DMV, yet had asked the farmers market for a proposal on March 25, 2019, to be presented before a vote.

The farmers market team thought that this idea of the move had been floated, but not inked. Pressure was put on the farmers market by Councilperson Lee Kyriacou for not knowing that they were moving to the DMV: “I'm sorry, what have you been doing to prepare since you last came?” said Lee. “It seems like you didn't like the message.”

However, all was spelled out by the City Attorney on March 25, after Paloma Wake, manager of the Beacon Farmers Market, asked the Council several clarification questions about the agreement. “Is the proposal synonymous with the agreement?” asked Paloma. The City Attorney answered: “Your proposal leads to the Council then adopting an agreement. The Council needs to get a proposal, then the Council adopts a Resolution for a one-year agreement.”

According to Paloma in a supporting letter submitted after that meeting: “Neither myself nor the Committee understood until Tuesday, April 9, that the City Council and Staff were awaiting a proposal from the Market for our License Agreement or that a vote on April 15 would not be possible. We were evaluating the proposed move and awaiting answers to our questions posed on March 25. Given the short timeline, I hope that you will give this matter your immediate attention and that we will be able to come to a consensus at the next Workshop Meeting on April 29.”

So What Happened At The Second Workshop?

The second Workshop was held on April 29, and more points were discussed about why a move to the DMV in one week would be difficult. Mayor Randy Casale saw no problem in flipping locations. “If we were moving you back to the riverfront, that would be a substantial change. The question is, are we going to have a market, and if so, where it’s going to be… You're running a Farmers Market. You can either open at one location or the other.”

Paloma responded: “Our committee and myself feel that our vendors need more time to adjust to that. And to allow the customers time to adjust to the new location. We found that when we moved [from the waterfront] the last time [three years ago], we are still getting customers looking for us at the waterfront. Regardless of how much marketing we do, it still takes time for folks to realize a change has been made. This would be a third year on Veterans Place. ... We are starting to build a real audience in that location.”

Council Member Lee Kyriacou wouldn’t entertain a second discovery session, having thought the first non-binding Workshop had solved it: “We already had this conversation. I haven't heard anything differently. I don't know why we are litigating it. There is $1 million of revenue on Main Street. We have to accommodate them.”

Editor’s Note: We tried fact-checking this revenue number. We cannot find a sales tax number for Beacon yet, and are pursuing different offices for an answer. Under an agreement with Dutchess County, which began in 1989 and has been renewed multiple times, the Cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie “surrendered their rights of preemption to the Sales Tax,” whereby Beacon’s sales tax is sent to Dutchess County, and a fixed amount is paid to Beacon. Under the latest agreement from 2013-2023, Beacon is paid a fixed rate out of a grand total of $25 million that gets paid to Poughkeepsie, Beacon, and other towns and villages outside of Beacon and Poughkeepsie. In the latest renewal of this agreement, Beacon’s portion is $4,158,686 in total over those years. If “Growth” occurs, then an additional amount is paid to Beacon and Poughkeepsie. The amount is calculated based on the net collections of Sales and Use Tax. After their calculations are done to the formula in that agreement with Dutchess County, “if the difference between the two amounts is positive, then the County shall allocate 18.453% of that difference to the Cities of Poughkeepsie and Beacon and to the area outside the cities on the basis of population set forth in 1262(c) of the Tax Law.” This agreement, signed June 14, 2013, is up for renewal in 2023, and is identified as 13-0193-3/23-F1.

Council Member George Mansfield pointed out in the first Workshop meeting that several of the surrounding businesses did support the farmers market in the Veterans Place location: “For the record, there are a lot of letters of support from brick and mortars, including Beacon Natural, who you could argue is a direct competitor, and is in support [of this location].”

The former manager of the Beacon Farmers Market, Sarah Simon, then approached the podium to express her take on the move: “At this point, we have 30 vendors and customers who want us to open. Paloma works very hard to make this happen. The fact that there are two buildings [near the DMV] that are actively under construction is a very big deal. I think this move is unfair. As a resident of Beacon, I don't think this is happening in the right way. Five businesses right across the street have written letters of support and that have helped their business. We are being made to move based on one business. I'm not convinced we will resolve other issues.”

Regardless, the council people started proceeding with the move to the DMV by suggesting deadlines. They began negotiating with the farmers market about how much time the market had to move. One week? Two weeks, they asked? One month was decided upon, and the meeting began to wrap up. Phil rose from the audience and voiced his objection. As Council Member Terry Nelson packed his bags, he replied: “Phil. You won.”

The final vote was set for May 6, 2019.

At The Final Vote - Does The Farmers Market Stay Or Move?

In between the time of the second Workshop and the final vote at the May 6, 2019, City Council meeting, many Beaconites wrote into their council representatives. Each council person ended up wanting to keep the farmers market at Veterans Place, after hearing feedback from their constituents.

Amber Grant: “After hearing from people ... I think we keep them at Veterans Place.”

John Rembert: “At least for this year, until we re-evaluate it.”

George Mansfield: “I’m leaning in that direction. I'm not confident that the problems we are trying to solve won't repeat themselves in another location. In addition to involving the County. And I think the timing is a little bit off. This should have been started early in the winter, long before it got to this point. I think the DMV lot has potential. I'd like to see it after the other buildings are built, to see what kind of congestion we will see.”

Terry Nelson: “I received a lot of feedback too. I agree with George to revisit it earlier. … I’m inclined to stay at Veterans Place.”

Jodi McCredo: “I feel like we needed more time to have this conversation. … I feel like now we’re being pressured to make this decision and there are just so many variables and so many things up in the air. I don’t feel comfortable with this. It would make sense to keep them at Veterans Place and have a date to know when we are going to discuss this for next year.”

Lee Kyriacou, who is running for mayor against current Mayor Randy Casale, was absent for this vote. Council members who were there voted to keep the farmers market at Veterans Place for one more year, and Mayor Casale voted against.

When the council members went to cast their votes, a woman from the back of the public audience area called out a question, stating that she thought the issue had been settled, and asked for clarification, pointing out that the business owner leading this issue was not in attendance at the meeting. The Mayor responded: “There’s no settled issue until the Council votes on it in a Council meeting. We discussed it at the Workshop, and they were going to move them. There is no set agreement until we vote on it at a Council meeting. That’s the way everything happens.”

RESULT:

The Beacon Farmers Market will be at Veterans Place again this year. Despite all that, nothing changed - for 2019, at least. Mark your calendar for November 2019, when the negotiating parties said they wanted to revisit the issue and discuss future placement.

Early Questions Circling DMV vs. Veterans Place Location

As the Beacon Farmers Market and the City Council began to debate the logistics, a few issues emerged:

  • Hot Summer Heat On An Open Parking Lot: The farmers market folks were concerned about the direct heat wilting the produce if in the DMV parking lot. Veterans Place does offer shade, they said. If you speak to the vendors of the Beacon Flea located behind the Post Office, they will tell you about the parking lot heat.

  • DMV Parking Lot Currently Unused, But Is It Because Of No Sign? Jessica Reisman, owner of Homespun Foods, attended the meeting, and spoke at the end. She questioned the presumed emptiness of the parking lot, presenting the idea that no one knows it is a free parking lot. The Mayor objected, saying that he makes announcements during these City Council meetings. Knowing that the parking lot issue is not clear to everyone, A Little Beacon Blog years ago created a Free Parking Lot Guide, and we have received compliments on it by readers who found it online. But in truth, people passing through Beacon who have never watched a City Council meeting would not look at the DMV parking lot as a free lot - unless it had big, friendly signage. Which it currently does not. It has a faded, broken DMV sign, which presents what is inside the building. There’s not a specific parking sign (see picture below). According to Mayor Casale, the parking lot is waiting for a sign from Dutchess County, who owns the lot. There is a nice “Welcome to Beacon” sign, however.

  • Will The DMV Parking Lot Heavily Be In Use After Two New Buildings Open? Buildings next to and across from the DMV parking lot are going up, and are set to open with apartments. How will the free DMV parking lot be impacted when the buildings fill with residents?

  • Good Faith Effort To Accommodate Business Neighbors: Relations between businesses are just as important as between residents in their homes and apartments. After the final voting meeting, Jessica from Homespun suggested that the farmers market offer picnic tables to its customers, as well as port-a-potties to help keep unwanted overflow foot traffic out of the Towne Crier Cafe.

  • [EDIT: 5/13/2019] Port-a-Potties Already At Both Markets: What was not discussed at either workshop or the final voting period was that each market has had a port-a-potty at their market, for a total of two port-a-potties. The Beacon Flea has a port-a-potty at its market behind the gas station. That was how 2018 went, and how it was proposed that 2019 go. However, the proposal that the farmers market put forth was not published onto the City of Beacon’s website on the Agenda page that contains supporting documents (like letters, draft legal documents, etc.). Otherwise, we would have reviewed it for this article and could have seen that port-a-potties were already included in the 2019 year.
    PS: The only reason we know about the port-a-potties is because after the original publishing of this article, a new business in town reached out to us because they wanted the bathroom foot traffic, and saw a port-a-potty as a marketing opportunity. So we unintentionally learned a little bit more about the bathroom situation.

Pictured below is the current signage at the DMV parking lot:


Side Note: Beacon Becoming Not Vendor-Friendly

Vendors are a dicey topic among some brick-and-mortar businesses. Storefront businesses have high stakes once they sign long-term leases. When they see a competing business outside their doors, set up on a street corner as part of a street fair, some of them get upset. On the other hand, you have businesses that join in the fray. Like More Good, who has operated a Main Street storefront for a number of years, while employing people to set up shop at markets all over the state of New York, including at this farmers market even though his storefront is just steps away. When we spoke with More Good’s owner, Jason Schuler, three years ago about this, he said business was good at his farmers market stand, and at his store. More Good is also also expanding into a larger manufacturing facility in the former IBM Complex in East Fishkill, in addition to their storefront.

La Mère Clothing and Goods, a new brick-and-mortar storefront here in Beacon, has also created a petite La Mère on wheels, where she takes her boutique on the road and attends markets as a vendor. In addition to her storefront space.

All You Knead Artisan Bakery is another Beacon business who has a storefront on Main Street, and attends markets, including Beacon Farmers Market. If you want one of their chocolate croissants, you have two chances to pick one up.

Hudson Valley Seafood is a vendor at the Farmers Market, and is slated to go into the new Food Hall that is coming soon-ish to Main Street (look, they have an Instagram!). Hudson Valley Seafood says they will be open seven days in their new brick-and-mortar location - rather - they will be one of several vendors in a permanent indoor location.

Barb’s Butchery is going to open a vendor spot this year (starting May 19) at the Beacon Farmers Market so that people can grab her street food for a quick bite, then go to her shop on Spring Street to re-stock on the chicken, pork, lamb and beef to take home.

In the Beacon Farmers Market contract with the City of Beacon are lines about not allowing food vendors to cook at the market, with the exception of Nana’s Homemade, to be grandfathered in. (Nana’s serves kabobs, brownies, baklava, hummus, and a few other items). The businesses who have vocalized displeasure with Nana’s are Kamel Jamal of Tito Santana’s, Ziatun and Beacon Bread Company, as well as Phil from Towne Crier Cafe.

As for Towne Crier, they offer a very large menu (yay, so many options), usually have at least 10 different desserts, and have booth seating inside for large families or groups of friends. As for Ziatun, they have my favorite hummus in town. Bar none. Double order required. And as for Beacon Bread, they have some of the best french toast in town (rivaled by Homespun’s deep dish version).

Ziatun and Towne Crier Cafe are sit-down eating experiences. Market eating is street food, or quick food you eat to get you through the rest of Main Street, when you might revisit Towne Crier or Ziatun for a sit-down dinner. Or you snacked at the market, and still sat down at a restaurant 45 minutes later for lunch with a glass of wine or a beer.

The Mayor stated during the May 6, 2019, City Council meeting that he also does not like outside food vendors: “I'm a firm believer that we should not have outside prepared food vendors to non-Beacon brick and mortars.” Can local government dictate how and when we eat?

As for customers - loads of customers line up and wait each Sunday to have their favorite dish from Nana’s. It’s street food. As long as we’re all being honest here, it’s their chicken kabob wrap that gets me out of the house - at all - on Sundays. And it doesn’t even exist on their menu. I have to special request it. If I’m really going to treat myself, Nana’s also has one of the best brownies.

Eating prepared food at a farmers market is a quick bite you get because you know you are not going to go inside to sit at a restaurant. No matter what. You weren’t going to go to a restaurant anyway. Or maybe those Main Street restaurants, especially Ziatun and Beacon Bread, were already full.

Furthermore, not all Beacon-based brick and mortar food businesses can afford to hire more staff to go cook on-site. So they pass on opportunities to do so. This has happened for the Beacon Barkery Parade and others, where business owners have let me know that they can’t sustain to be out of their storefronts and pay additional staff, and order additional food to prepare. On the other hand, other restaurants in Beacon have figured out how to make this happen and do participate in markets.

Proposed Legislation To Block Prepared Food Vendors At Farmers Market

Here is the proposed contract language for 2019 from the City of Beacon to the Farmers Market, regarding prepared food vendors. The council ended up going with their existing 2018 contract for this year, however, this is what was proposed for this year:

 

CGF [Common Ground Farm] shall permit its vendors to sell only those products that are pre-approved by CGF, or its designee. No prepared food vendors may be added to the Market without first right of refusal being given to any Beacon business selling a comparable product. Except that the following vendors may continue to cook or prepare food to serve to the public for the term of their Vendor Agreement: Nana’s Homemade. If these vendors are removed from the Farmers Market, they must be replaced with local businesses.

Prohibited Sales From Vehicles on Veterans Place. There shall be no sales from the surfaces of pick-up trucks, trailers or other vehicles, except that produce and/or fish may be sold from a refrigerated vehicle. All products not exempt herein must be sold from a stationary stall when the Market operates on Veterans Place.

 

Kamel Jamal has long advocated against trucks and vendor opportunities, by doing so on social media and with past events including the market and a one-time Beacon Jazz Festival several years ago, where his food truck was the only one allowed to vend at that privately-run festival. He has signed leases on multiple restaurant locations in Beacon including Tito’s Santanas, Beacon Bread Company, Ziatun, Végétalien, an attempted move or expansion of Ziatun to the former Trendy Tots space on Main Street which is no longer happening (both the storefront and warehouse are still available for rent), as well as an attempted purchase of Poppy’s hamburger joint, which was purchased instead by the owners of Kitchen Sink. That burger joint is now Meyer’s Olde Dutch.

Business competition is a very tricky thing and has no single variable as to why a business is succeeding or not. To allow a government to begin legislation between business competitors can spread to other types of businesses, including soaps, coffee shops, jewelry (both wholesale in store and brick-and-mortar locations of a sole designer), and any other business type.

Additionally, a “local business” as mentioned in that proposed contract language is hard to define. Since Nana’s is a local business - somewhere - in some local area. Is a “local business” defined as one that is local anywhere? If the business has a brick and mortar in Beacon, but the owner lives in Poughkeepsie or Hopewell Junction or Wappingers Falls or Cold Spring, is that a “local business” as defined by the contract language introduced above? Because several Main Street business owners fall into that category, where they have a brick and mortar in Beacon, but live in a different city or town.

It should be noted for consideration, that Food Trucks were approved into Zoning in the “Linkage District” aka down near Brett’s Hardware, in January 2018. Additionally, a very popular food truck called the Beacon Bite, which ran on an empty lot next to Ella’s Bellas, powered down years ago. We were not covering City Council meetings at that time, but variables were discussed at the time about that food truck-based business.

Side Side Note: Community Around Farmers Markets - How It Happens

Gathering people in this way - street food eating - is part of the Farmers Market’s mission, as was stated several times in the Workshop meetings by the market manager. In response to Council Member Lee Kyriacou’s challenging of the issue the Farmers Market - when he asked if it was a mission issue or a neighbor issue: “Doesn't sound like there is any conflict with your core mission. Your core mission is about a farmers market. It's the ancillary components - the prepared food and the music. I think that if those are limited, I think you’ll have a ton of support. If there are more of those other things, I think that will create conflict.”

Paloma answered to define what a farmers market is and what it means to people: “I think we view the function of a Farmers Market ... to be a public space and to be a public gathering space. I think the prepared food and the music tie into that core aspect of it.”

Side Side Side Note: Does The City Of Beacon Want To Legislate Business Competition?

What was not discussed were the other businesses - artists and makers who provide items that are not food - that are not being legislated out - yet. Activities or products for children, home decor, wine tastings, books, etc. All of these items are available on Main Street just as restaurants are. It should be asked: If the City of Beacon legislates out competing businesses who put stakes down into brick-and-mortar locations, do they also plan to begin legislating out businesses at the vendor level?

If there are five yoga studios in Beacon, or three Pilates studios, or six coffee shops or three locations for different soaps, would the City start legislating that? Why just restaurants? And should the City have a hand in a business - if a business wants to sign a lease in a location which is zoned for what it provides - asking permission to open at all if there are competing businesses in town?

It’s a running - very endearing - observation that there are so many coffee shops in town. Everyone loves them all, as each is their own creation. But can you imagine if the City of Beacon didn’t allow one of them to open because there were already a few established? The coffee shops have their customers who like their vibe, their coffee, their music, their seating, their decor, their people. Fear of competition usually dissipates because people visit more than one of their favorites. Personally, I shop from and get produce from four grocery sources: Key Food, Beacon Natural, the Farmers Market, and Peapod. And Barb’s for my beef and chicken. It’s fun. Why regulate these choices?

Businesses in other cities in other states also do fight these vendor and food truck options. And City Councils do listen to them. Despite the enormous amount of people and customers (taxpayers creating the revenue that is sent in from the restaurant) who support all of these establishments, and value the vibrancy and choice it gives to a city. These street events are certainly part of the charm of Beacon.

So, set a note on your calendar for November 2019 for when this comes up again. Meanwhile, see you at market.

Sneak Peek of Vendor Map for the Cupcake Festival

Official Vendor Map of the 2017 Cupcake Festival from K104.7

Official Vendor Map of the 2017 Cupcake Festival from K104.7

We've been hearing from you... People are wondering about this rain and if the Cupcake Festival is really happening or not. Well, we checked with the folks at K104.7 and they said they got the "thumbs up" from their Weather Team, so they're packing the trucks with the Cupcake Wars stage and coming down to Beacon, NY, tomorrow (Saturday) from 1 to 5 pm. We're still watching the skies and our inbox to see if we get a weather alert from them, but so far, it's on!

Meanwhile, here's a sneak peek of their official Vendor Map. Take a look at who is participating so that you can plot out which vendors you'll visit. Vendors' tables will be nestled between Main Street and the bustling sidewalk of our storefronts and restaurants. Everyone is looking forward to seeing you, so visit A Little Beacon Blog's Shopping Guide and Restaurant Guide so that you can plan which stores and restaurants you want to hit up while you're here!

Cupcake Festival In Beacon For 2017 From K104.7 - May 6th

RAIN UPDATE 5/5/2017 1:45pm: We are getting a lot of reader questions about rain plans. K104.7 is the producer of this event, so if we hear from them that there has been a change in plan, we will publish an article here to A Little Beacon Blog. As of this time, as far as we know, it's on! So bring your raincoats - or buy one on Main Street. We saw some at Lauren & Riley yesterday. Check our Shopping Guide of all Beacon shops to plot out which shops you want to hit up.

CUPCAKE FESTIVAL DETAILS

  • WHEN: Saturday, May 6, 2017
  • TIME: 1pm-5pm
  • WHERE: East End of Main Street, Between Fishkill Ave. and at the Dummy Light
  • JUDGING: Stage located across the street from The Chocolate Studio. Judging starts at 3pm

After years of being in Fishkill, next month the Cupcake Festival from K104.7 comes to Beacon's East End of town. On Saturday, May 6, from 1 to 5 pm, the tasty treats will take over between Rt. 52/Fishkill Avenue and the dummy light at East Main Street. The event has attracted 4,000 people to Fishkill in the past, and Beacon is getting ready for the influx of pastry-seeking visitors. Says Mayor Randy Casale about this new event in Beacon: "We believe it will bring a lot of people to our Main Street business district and because of its location, we believe it will help to promote the East End of our business district. That being said, we also know that when we have big events, it does cause some problems, such as [with] traffic patterns and parking, but overall, we believe this adds value to our community where our residents, tourists and businesses will benefit."

A business representative from the newly established East End Business District Association, Michele Williams, owner of Style Storehouse, says about the event: "The East End has been waiting a long time to host an event, and we couldn't more appreciative to The Mayor, The Beacon Chamber of Commerce, and K104 for thinking of us." 

What To Expect

On this day of sugar, cupcake makers from all over the Hudson Valley will be on Main Street displaying their wares, mixed in with other vendors. Tables and booths in years past have included chair massages, homemade dog biscuits, hot dog stands, kids crafts, a bouncy house, alternative energy resellers, and all types of businesses and organizations hoping to connect with people.

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Cupcake Wars - Judging of the Cupcakes

Mid-way through the festival, at 3 pm, judging for the Cupcake Wars will commence and cupcake designers will compete for the top prize of $1,000. Anyone can enter their cupcake here. The judging stage will be located across the street from The Chocolate Studio. You will be surrounded by heaven and goodness. Look for tables of cupcake enteries, decorated and dressed up to look and taste their best.

What kind of creations will come out of the day? In a pre-judging, on-air segment in the K104.7 studios, I'm going to get a sneak peak as cupcakes are judged during the 9 o'clock hour this Friday morning, March 31, 2017. Be sure to listen from your car, computer or app (or gosh - actual radio in your home!), and I'll bring fresh coffee to go with cupcake samples! Follow A Little Beacon Blog's Instagram and Twitter for studio photos.

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Vendor Opportunities

Vendors of all types can set up tables, even if you don't sell cupcakes. The vendor form can be found here. According to the Beacon Chamber of Commerce, there is a discount for Beacon businesses to have a table on the street: "We want all Beacon businesses to benefit from this event, so K104 is slashing the vendor fee in half for any Beacon business! You will receive your business name on the flyer and a 10 x 10 spot on the street." Vendor applications can be submitted here, and/or contact Sam Favata: sfavata@pamal.com.

UPDATE 5/1/17: Vendor spots are full.

You may see a table for A Little Beacon Blog, where we'll be back at it doing facepainting as a fundraiser for the elementary schools in Beacon. We already donated to the South Avenue kindergarten teacher team for their impressive use of craft supplies for so many children, and now are raising money for the other three kindergarten teams at Sargent, J.V. Forrestal, and Glenham schools. PS: We are looking for two volunteers to help face paint! If interested, please contact us. 

How To Get To The Cupcake Festival in Beacon for 2017

Getting to the festival is easy. It is on the east end of Beacon's mile long Main Street. According the iPhone map, if coming from the Beacon Train Station, It is approximately 1.3 miles. If walking, it should take you 30mins to walk. And it's a great walk! Allow extra time to stop into shops on your way down, and get coffee or snacks on your way. A Little Beacon Blog has a full Shopping Guide that lists all of the shopping options in Beacon, so definitely check it out so that you know that to find in Beacon. For food in Beacon, see our Restaurant Guide for cafe and dining ideas. From outfitter stores to men's and women's clothing boutiques to home decor and flowers to bubbles and soap, you will find something special. Then, to see what else is going on in Beacon, see our Event Guide because there are other special events going on around you.

Want to stay hooked into what's going on in Beacon? Sign up to our e-newsletter list right here!

If driving from the train station or thereabouts, it's 7 minutes. You can find parking in a large free parking lot on that end of town, the address and pictures of which are here in A Little Beacon Blog's Free Parking Guide. This is in addition to several other parking lots, like DMV lot in the middle of Main Street There are also neighboring side streets that you can park at.

On your smartphone map, if you put in Beacon Station as the start point, and Howland Cultural Center as your destination end point, then you should get directions.

Sponsored by TEG Federal Credit Union, Poughkeepsie Galleria, Beacon's own Antalek & Moore, and the Family Dental Group, this should be a great day! Parking will get creative, but you can find all of Beacon's free municipal lots here in our Free Parking Lot Guide.

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: Digital Weddings

Photo Credit: K104.7

Photo Credit: K104.7

10th Annual Beacon Barks Parade Is Happening for 2017!

 
 

The Beacon Barks Parade went on hiatus last year as the Beacon Barkery, the co-founding institution behind the event, transitioned to new owners. Recently, dog and cat fans have been happy to see the familiar yellow flyers return to storefront windows around town for the event, which raises money for Safe Haven Animal Shelter & Wildlife Center, and raises awareness for homeless animals in our communities.

Slated for Saturday, April 29, from 11 am to 4 pm (with no rain date planned), people and dogs will gather once again along Main Street starting at the west end of Main Street near Mountain Tops to the parking lot at the DMV. Some will be in costume for the Costume Contest, while others will be participating in canine performances while music plays on the street. Rescue organizations will hosting pet adoptions during the day, so be prepared to fall in love with a dog or cat - of any age! Just find someone to love and rescue.

Sponsor Opportunities

As in years past, there are vendor and sponsor opportunities available, and anyone can be a vendor, not just pet-related businesses or organizations. There is no fee for nonprofits, or for storefronts located along the parade route, to have a vendor table. To date, event sponsors include Canine Sanctuary, Tonya’s Tasty Treats, the VCA, Beacon Barkery, and Safe Haven.

To be a vendor, stop into Beacon Bakery at 190 Main Street to pick up or drop off an application (download one here from Hudson Valley Pet Expo's website) and leave a $50 vendor fee. The application deadline is April 15 (so get your taxes done early so that you can do this without panic!). Vendors get space for a 10'x10' table. Tables aren't provided, but details on renting a table and chairs are in the application. You could always invest in a table and chairs at Home Depot.

Costume Contest and Marching in Parade

To enter the pet costume contest, you also will need to fill out an application, but there is no fee. Anyone can march in the parade, and marchers do not need to register. 

Details for the parade can be found here at Hudson Valley Pet Expo.

 

Beacon's Parade Of Green 2017 On A Chilly Main Street in March

Madeleine Ouellette of King Family Chiropractic helps the Beacon Chamber of Commerce sell green headbands.  Photo Credit:  Beacon Chamber of Commerce  and Kate Rabe

Madeleine Ouellette of King Family Chiropractic helps the Beacon Chamber of Commerce sell green headbands.
Photo Credit: Beacon Chamber of Commerce and Kate Rabe

It was a chilly day in Beacon last Saturday, March 22, 2017, for the 2nd Annual Parade of Green, but that did not stop the floats from promenading down Main Street. Over thirty organizations participated (several can be seen here). Although the turnout to cheer them on was a little lighter than last year, there were still many members of the community who did bundle up and come out to watch.  

The marching was kicked off by the Parade of Green committee, who greeted all of us with a smile and a wave. Without the committee, none of this wonderful new tradition would be possible. They were followed by various groups from our community, including kids from the Boy Scouts of America, Beacon’s Pop Warner teams, Yanarella School of Dance, the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps, various fire departments from the area and even an impressive float from the McElduff Family.  

Stinson's Hub, a pub on Fishkill Avenue, was out with flying colors.  Photo Credit:  Beacon Chamber of Commerce  and Kate Rabe

Stinson's Hub, a pub on Fishkill Avenue, was out with flying colors.
Photo Credit: Beacon Chamber of Commerce and Kate Rabe

Businesses along Main Street participated as well, coming out onto the sidewalks to hand out some St. Paddy’s Day goodies. Bank Square kicked off the day with a great Keg & Eggs event, making over five dozen eggs! Antalek & Moore had a popcorn machine running throughout the morning to hand out treats to spectators and the marchers. 

The parade took a new route this year, ending at the East of Main near the dummy light. But the day's festivities did not stop there. Multiple bars and restaurants - from Joe’s Irish Pub to The Elks Club to Max’s - opened their doors to welcome everyone with a St. Patrick’s Day theme. Even The Vault was dressed up for the occasion, renamed “McVaulty’s Irish Pub." Stinson’s Hub also featured Irish step dancers and a pipe and drum band.

The Vault turned into McVaulty's Irish Pub for two weeks to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  Photo Credit:  The Vault

The Vault turned into McVaulty's Irish Pub for two weeks to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Photo Credit: The Vault

Although we missed the warm sunshine that graced the parade last year, it was still a memorable event that brought Beacon together. We're all looking forward to celebrating the 3rd annual parade next year!

Photo Credit:  Beacon Chamber of Commerce  and Kate Rabe

Photo Credit: Beacon Chamber of Commerce and Kate Rabe

About This Citizen Blogger: Kate Rabe was born and raised in Beacon, NY. Her mother works for Antalek & Moore, and Kate holds a newly elected position as a Director with the Beacon Chamber of Commerce. Kate is a certified business coach, helping corporations and small businesses navigate and implement their HR needs.  

The Story Behind Beacon's Bicycle Tree, Lit Every December Second Saturday (Sponsor Spotlight)


This year will mark the fifth year for the Bicycle Tree, which has grown in size and complexity. During its first year, the tree was smaller and stationary. Last year, visitors of all ages were delighted when they found they could interact with the tree by spinning wheels, using pedals, and climbing around its larger structure. Originally an initiative conceived by the artist Ed Benavente and sponsored by BeaconArts, the City of Beacon now also supports the event. Activities including a children's craft begin at 3:30 pm, Santa arrives at dusk, and the tree is lit at 5 pm. Bring a mug for hot chocolate.

Photo Credit: BeaconArts, by Ethan Harrison (@Wolfingtons)

The Bicycle Reindeer that brings Santa to the tree lighting each year.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The Second Saturday Tree Lighting happens at Polhill Park next to the Beacon Welcome Center. Last year, in 2015, a record 750 people attended and 200 children sang, according to Kelly Ellenwood, Vice President of BeaconArts. During the day of the tree lighting, the program includes singers and dancers from various local schools, traditional Christmas carols, free hot chocolate and of course, Santa Claus himself, who is delivered by a Bicycle Reindeer to the tree. The menagerie of bicycle constructions has also grown to include a Bicycle Menorah for Hanukkah, and now a New Year’s Ball made of bicycle wheel rims. The latter will be dropped in the last seconds of 2016 for the second time at Dogwood (on the East End of town just over the Fishkill Creek).

Ed's sculptures are all around town. Most notable may be the tall fork and spoon that went up outside Café Amarcord during a Beacon 3D summer outdoor show. You also may have seen Ed peddling around town on his Santa Cab/Bike, aka the Bicycle Reindeer. Ed's work can also be seen in Marion Royael Gallery (speaking of which, have you been in to see the Doors exhibit, "Mr. Yard Presents Knock Knock Underground Emoji" yet? Today is a good day to go). To learn more about the tree, we asked the artist to tell us about it in his own words. Here's what he had to say:

Why the Bicycle Tree? How did this become an annual symbol in Beacon?

"First of all, this project was conceived in 2011 to help give a focal point for all of the various holiday activities being supported by the city, local businesses and volunteer groups. As is often the case, money was the biggest obstacle to having a large, central holiday display. When it comes to making something out of nothing, ask an artist. I am an artist, and a local resident and sculptor, and I volunteered to create a town Christmas Tree as an art project.

"As an art piece, the tree is not perfect. It is ever-evolving just like the community we live in. That’s one reason I chose the bicycle as a symbolic component. Bicycles are powered by people. I feel very fortunate to live in a place that knows how to keep things rolling.

"Taking a half-dozen or so junk bicycles, I fashioned a tree-shaped display and installed it on the empty lot at the corner of Main and Cross Streets (between River Winds Gallery and Hudson Beach Glass) under the sponsorship of the Beacon Arts Community Association (BACA). The location has since moved to Polhill Park."

How did it go? This bicycle tree? How was it received?

"It’s one of those things you just don’t know what people will do or how they will react. I was overwhelmed by the positive responses from people walking by as I was setting this thing up. It made them happy."

# # #

The Bicycle Menorah
Photo Credit: Ed Benavente

This tree lighting is an annual tradition, and Ed's work and BeaconArts' organization and promotion of the event are integral to the holiday season in Beacon. See you this afternoon/tonight at 3:30 pm! Santa arrives at dusk (about 4:30 pm) and the tree is lit at 5 pm. Bring a mug for hot chocolate. Then return to this spot on December 24, 2016 for the lighting of the Bicycle Menorah to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, and let's gather at Dogwood on New Year's Eve for the dropping of the Bicycle Ball.

The Bicycle Ball for New Year's Eve at Dogwood.
Photo Credit: Ed Benavente

This article is a Sponsor Spotlight post with our partnership with BeaconArts, but what makes the partnership so great is that we would have written about it anyway! Thank you for supporting businesses and organizations who support us.

Beacon's Kids Hocus Pocus Halloween Parade in Pictures, 2016

A Little Troll stands across the street from Echo, examining her collection. Image by @campbellandcampbell

A Little Troll stands across the street from Echo, examining her collection.
Image by @campbellandcampbell

Can we... I just... I can't. So cute was the Kids' Hocus Pocus Parade this year! Blocks and blocks of families walked down Main Street, from Bank Square to Teller Avenue, with many continuing around Main Street to visit the many more shops that often feel hidden around that bend. With The Roundhouse offering special cider and The East End boutique (formerly PfotoShop) opening up their photo booth, there was much fun to be had on the Sunday one week before Halloween.

Some serious witches and ghosts stroll down the dead tracks on Beacon's West End of town, near the mountain along the Fishkill Creek (near The Roundhouse Patio). Image by @cappyhotchkiss

Some serious witches and ghosts stroll down the dead tracks on Beacon's West End of town, near the mountain along the Fishkill Creek (near The Roundhouse Patio).
Image by @cappyhotchkiss

Dr. Who fans immediately recognize this costume, outside of The Pandorica Restaurant on Beacon's East End of town (near Play). Image by @thepandoricarestaurant

Dr. Who fans immediately recognize this costume, outside of The Pandorica Restaurant on Beacon's East End of town (near Play).
Image by @thepandoricarestaurant

Key Food Beacon hired a band of 12-year-olds to warm up the neighborhood before the parade started. Some even dressed in character! Image by @junior_zayed

Key Food Beacon hired a band of 12-year-olds to warm up the neighborhood before the parade started. Some even dressed in character!
Image by @junior_zayed

Kids gathered 'round The Yankee Clipper Diner for select pieces of candy. Image by @yankeeclipperdiner

Kids gathered 'round The Yankee Clipper Diner for select pieces of candy.
Image by @yankeeclipperdiner

More Key Food and that boxed water. Image by @junior_zayed

More Key Food and that boxed water.
Image by @junior_zayed

Little peanut dragon. Image by @katrinreifeiss

Little peanut dragon.
Image by @katrinreifeiss

Yes, The Kids' Halloween Parade Really Is This Sunday!

The questions are flying around Facebook groups and my inbox: "Is the Kids' Parade really this Sunday?" Yes... as is maybe your school Halloween party this week, unless it's on the day of Halloween, or who knows! October turned super-busy last year, and this year has proven no different. Just take a look at how the 2015 Kids' Halloween Hocus Pocus Parade turned out!

Two parades pass through this weekend: The Dark Parade, which is a glow-in-the-dark event for adults on Saturday night, and the Kids' Hocus Pocus Parade on Sunday afternoon.

We dusted off last year's Pumpkins and Parades Guide that contains information on where to find parades, pumpkin carving events, and pumpkin patches and markets. This year, we added a "Watch For It" section to highlight special offerings from stores. Don't let the warm weather fool you - Halloween is coming, and you may need two costumes for all of the display opportunities. By the time trick-or-treating comes around, that well-planned costume may have a few worn patches. Take a look at our coverage of last year's Kids Halloween Parade to get a sense for the day.

PS: The location of this photo is Lawrence Farms, which is in this guide as a beautiful location of pumpkin picking.

PS: The location of this photo is Lawrence Farms, which is in this guide as a beautiful location of pumpkin picking.

For the past two years (that I know of), Dance Bag has had a $10 rack out on their sidewalk for an impressive selection of poofy dresses and other stage-worthy costumes, but they say they won't this year. If making your own costume is not an option right now, really impressive and affordable costumes have been known to be at TJ Maxx and at Cracker Barrel. By now, Cracker Barrel may have their costumes on clearance. So that's a bonus!

two Halloween Events at A Little Beacon Space!

We're about to send an official announcement about it (but all of these parade dates bumped our own article), but A Little Beacon Space is open! We're hosting two pop-up events this weekend: Parent/Child Yoga on Saturday with a Halloween theme (only seevn spots left!), and Kitchen Cuts for kids' haircuts and face painting on Sunday. Hope to see you!

Only seven spots left, so  get your ticket!

Only seven spots left, so get your ticket!

Walk-ins welcome! If you  book online in advance of the day,  you get a discount.

Walk-ins welcome! If you book online in advance of the day, you get a discount.

Beacon's 5th Car Auto Show 2016 Rolls Into Town - Pictures of the City's Biggest Yet

Cruising into its fourth year, the Beacon Auto Show rolled into town with 307 automobiles and trucks. Filing up both sides of Main Street from west to east, stopping at the diner, it was again put on by Beacon's Chamber of Commerce. This year, 2016, marks the largest year for the show, which so far, has only been growing. According to officials, cars were squeezed in anywhere they could fit, including several in the DMV Parking Lot. Live music and an awards show, with several trophies, were anchored at the gas station near the post office and the entrance to Beacon Flea. The day's weather was spectacular, unlike the previous year when we experienced a freak snow shower, sending people into cafes (like Homespun, pictured below) in search of hot chocolate.

Prevalent this year were the props outside and inside of the cars. Looks like we featured this car in  the 2015 show!  This time, it looks brighter and has plenty of accessories.

Prevalent this year were the props outside and inside of the cars. Looks like we featured this car in the 2015 show! This time, it looks brighter and has plenty of accessories.

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And the colors! Painter Jean Noack was overcome by the bright, glossy finishes surrounding her.

And the colors! Painter Jean Noack was overcome by the bright, glossy finishes surrounding her.

A produce truck, quite appropriate for these parts, and adorable! 

A produce truck, quite appropriate for these parts, and adorable! 

The old Chevy Caprice, parked in front of the Beacon Natural Market. You could fit a lot of groceries in that vehicle. 

The old Chevy Caprice, parked in front of the Beacon Natural Market. You could fit a lot of groceries in that vehicle. 

Remember the third seat facing backwards in the Chevy Caprice? Complete with seat belts. 

Remember the third seat facing backwards in the Chevy Caprice? Complete with seat belts. 

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Fire breathers outside of the new location of Pizza and Stuff, Quinn's and BAJA 328. 

Fire breathers outside of the new location of Pizza and Stuff, Quinn's and BAJA 328. 

Stingray... no other words needed. 

Stingray... no other words needed. 

The glass hood ornament in a row of Ford Mustangs. Looks like this Mustang was  also featured in 2015,  but this year has a flashier scene under the hood!

The glass hood ornament in a row of Ford Mustangs. Looks like this Mustang was also featured in 2015, but this year has a flashier scene under the hood!

Halloween was a big theme this year for car decorations. 

Halloween was a big theme this year for car decorations. 

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Beacon's Chamber of Commerce, selling t-shirts  UNDER THEIR TENT . 

Beacon's Chamber of Commerce, selling t-shirts UNDER THEIR TENT

The Beacon Flea was packed with different vendors, several of whom stayed past the usual closing hour of 3 pm because the crowd remained strong. 

The Beacon Flea was packed with different vendors, several of whom stayed past the usual closing hour of 3 pm because the crowd remained strong.