By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON July 30, 2002 Shirley Keesler isnt usually in the business of people watching.
But once a year, the Callicoon library clerk gets to sit back and watch people enjoy what the town has to offer.
At this years street fair, an annual tradition in the river hamlet, folks wandered the street checking out a mix of booths selling raffles to support local causes, crafts, t-shirts and jewelry.
But for people like Keesler, who was overseeing a used book sale in front of the towns library, the street fair is more of a chance to see people than to go shopping.
I just love to stand here and watch people, she said. You meet a lot of people who come back for the fair old friends meet old friends.
Those old friends watched children from local karate schools practice sparring while a musician strummed his guitar in the upstairs loft of a local office building. They made way for the cadet drill team from the local East Ridge School as they marched down the road in sync.
And they poured over gifts and goodies on the tables covering Main Street and the towns largest municipal parking lot.
I come every year, said resident Georgina Scardino. Its exciting, its fun, and I meet friends.
But things were different this year, many of the old-timers said.
Mingling with residents who trace their lineage back generations in the area was an overwhelming number of visitors.
I like the variety and the people, said Town of Delaware Councilwoman Eva Boyle as she wrote out raffle tickets for the Grover Hermann Hospital Auxiliary. I would say a good percentage of the people here today are visitors.
Ive seen a few I know, but I havent seen many.
But thats her favorite part of the street fair, Boyle said.
Its a great way to attract visitors and natives alike, she noted. And it seems to get bigger every year.
I think its something that brings the community together and helps build our community spirit, added Herb Bauernfeind, president of Interfaith Outreach United which runs the towns thrift shop.
The Callicoon resident began coming to the street fair eight years ago when the shop began opening its doors along with the other businesses on Main Street to welcome in the visitors and show off what they have to offer.
The majority of the restaurants and shops on the street were open for the day mixing the smells of fresh baked brownies at the Holy Cross/St. Patricks Church bake sale with some fresh barbecued chicken from Micheles Restaurant.
At 10 a.m. people were already stopping by Micheles booth to scoop up the chicken before it was all gone.
Co-owner Barry Schuchman was still setting up, and chef George Gattus had to shoo the customers away until they could grill the food to perfection.
Were a town business, Schuchman said, and I believe all businesses are out on the street today, getting involved.
Other booths were manned by out-of-towners who heard that the street fair turned a fair profit.
Nancy Obremski of Cornwall was selling her lip balms at a booth on the lower end of the fair, and she said she was doing well. A friend who runs a booth at the farmers market on Sundays in Callicoon told her to come down, she said.
She said the sidewalk fair is a lot of fun and draws a lot of people, and shes right, Obremski said.
Frank Fedrizzi of Middletown has been selling his crafts for several years at the fair, he said, and he always does well.
Its an out-of-the-way town, and there arent many places to shop, he noted. So we thought it might be a good chance for people to pick up some gifts.