ALBANY — Local organizers are calling the 2023 summer festival season a success, citing rising attendance numbers and a growing number of new vendors.
“Albany is a huge spot for tourism with all of these festivals that we have,” said Keith Morales, Special Events Coordinator for the City of Albany Office of Cultural Affairs.
Morales said attendance at local festivals has continued to rise, with this season returning to 2019 numbers.
“It’s the new normal, so not everything is back, but it has recovered,” he said.
Ryan Murray, director of marketing for Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, said attendance was robust at the Barker Park Kids’ Series summer events.
“We could see it growing and growing,” he said.
Morales said the summer festivals are important for the local economy.
“Not only are people coming out, but we’re seeing new vendors pop up all over the place,” he said. “People are coming back and starting new businesses or adjusting their previous businesses into something else.”
An essential aspect of the Troy Music Hall’s Summer in the Square series was its proximity to local restaurants and outdoor dining. Farmers markets and vendors are a core component, providing guests with a taste of local cuisine during the festivities.
From the Albany Latin Festival to the Albany Tulip Festival, free events and music highlight the importance of having accessibility to the arts within the communities.
“I don’t think people realize how much free programming is out there during the summer for families,” said Murray. “I think it’s important for us to engage with families and show them that this is a place where children can get that art exposure. Everyone has seen how art programs are diminished and budgets have been slashed. It’s important for organizations to reach out, especially to the community surrounding them, and engage with them in a positive way.”
“I think it’s one of the best things that a community can get. Live music and art is such a different experience from just watching a live show online or listening to music on a streaming platform,” said musician Roni Kaspi, who performed at the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival with her band.
The drummer and singer, who is set to debut her single “Mistakes” in October, said she especially like that the festival was free to attend.
“Everyone could just come and listen to music. They brought great bands for this lineup,” she said. “We could feel onstage that the people were really enjoying it. They didn’t have to pay anything. They could have just decided to get up and go, but they stayed. The overall vibe was very free, open, and like a community.”
Kaspi encourages audiences to support artists by being open-minded and ready to try new genres of music.
For those interested in getting involved, Morales noted the importance of volunteering.
“A lot of our events are put on by a small staff of four to five people, with 20 volunteers,” he said. “It’s a great way to get involved with the community.”
“I feel like it’s important for every community to have events like this because it connects people and makes them happier. It’s enriching your own thoughts, and live music makes you feel good,” added Kaspi.
“That’s what we’re here to do: engage with people, give them opportunities to see world-class artists, and engage with those artists and each other,” said Murray.