Editor’s note: There are several festivals in Orange County, but this one is unique.
When Bernadette Montana started the Beltane Festival 10 years ago, it only drew about 200 guests. Since then, the event has outgrown its original location and is expected to draw about 1,000 people this year.
“It’s evolved and I guess it has to do with people wanting it to evolve,” Montana said. “It’s the first event people attend throughout the year. It gives people hope. We’re coming out of winter and coming into spring and summer. People are very excited about participating in a festival like this.”
This year’s event will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on May 6 at Palaia Vineyards in Highland Mills. The hours have been extended in order to celebrate the milestone anniversary.
The festival was originally held on the grounds of The Grail in Cornwall-on-Hudson, but six years ago the location was changed to one that could accommodate more parking.
“I thought it would stay small and intimate, but it became something much, much larger,” Montana said. “So many people from so many communities are interested in this.”
In its second year, Montana had to turn away about 30 vendors due to a lack of space, but this year’s festival will feature 60 vendors selling jewelry, clothing, pottery, glassware, statues, and other homemade items.
This year’s festival will feature an art walk with a special section designated to anything related to art.
There will be glass-blowing and broom-making demonstrations, as well as other workshops.
The day will feature a number of bands, starting with lighter, acoustic music and culminating in louder classic rock. Montana said she didn’t want the music to overburden the workshops.
As always, the main feature will be the dance around the maypole. Last year’s honorees have been bestowed with the power to nominate this year’s honorees. Montana said she knows who will be tied to the maypole, but it will remain a surprise.
Like in years past, donations will be collected for charity. This year’s recipient will be the K-9 Sanctuary, which will have a booth at the festival with dogs available for adoption.
Attendees are asked to bring dog food, leashes, and other items to donate. It’s also recommended to bring a lawn chair and arrive early in order to find parking.