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Democrat Photo by Andy Simek

A HANDFUL OF the 60 members of Team Skate attend the Liberty Street Festival on the Fourth of July. So far, they have raised $65,000 towards a skate park in Liberty.

Liberty Enjoys
A Fun Fourth

By Andy Simek
LIBERTY — July 7, 2006 – Another Fourth of July means another Annual Liberty Street Festival, and even the pounding floods of the week before couldn’t stop it.
Every year, rain or shine, the festival attracts a hodgepodge of both vendors and patrons in the truest sense of the word’s meaning.
This year was no different.
From young to old, from dogs to cats, and from a poet laureate to punk skaters, the only people left out of this bazaar were the fish mongers and circus clowns.
The wares being sold were so varied that in conjunction with the mix of people, it could, at times, make your head spin.
As a for-instance, take John and Karen Gwiozdowski’s tent, one of the first ones that greets patrons to the fair.
If one were, say, in the mood to buy a tie-dye shirt or halter-top, they could stop off at their tent.
Or if one were inclined to buy an inflatable alien.
Or a 12-inch-tall Indian doll.
Or a statue of Buddha.
The list goes on, but the idea is clear; they sell a wide range of goods.
Participating in the festival is fun, John Gwiozdowski said, and they wouldn’t even think of stopping their attendance.
Despite the rainy conditions on Tuesday afternoon, John didn’t think it would hurt business.
“People here have the spirit,” he said, and “it’s a once-a-year thing; the people wait for it.”
And people certainly did show up – with their umbrellas and their strollers and their friends and their families . . . and their money.
The Gwiozdowskis have been selling their mixed bag of items at the Liberty Festival for five years now, doing it just for fun and, of course, for that little extra cash.
Walking a little farther down Main Street, one finds out the Team Skate booth has also come across a little extra cash, somewhere in the neighborhood of five grand.
Last October, Liberty’s Team Skate, part of the Liberty Economic Project, received the Tony Hawk Grant for $5,000 towards a skate park to be built at Walnut Mountain Park in Liberty.
Along with the money, Team Skate also received shirts, skateboards, helmets and other gear to sell in order to raise funds for their park from, one of the big names in online skateboarding accessories.
Pat Murphy, a two-year member of Team Skate, says that they have raised approximately $65,000 already, with a $200,000 goal.
“There’s a couple of pretty small $10,000 parks around,” he says, “but we’re trying to get our name on the map, here.”
Just a few booths away from Team Skate is a gentleman whose name isn’t on the map, but who does know a thing or two about them.
Known to some by his Tibetan name, Boonma travels the globe collecting clothing, jewelry and odds-and-ends to sell at his table.
Boonma has been working the Liberty Festival and other Sullivan County street fairs for about 10 years.
When he’s not entertaining Sullivan County fair patrons with his colloquial, joking manner, Boonma is busy setting up his displays and collecting regional fashions from over 25 different countries spanning Europe, Africa and South America.
The Liberty Festival is not the best nor the worst venue Boonma has worked at.
“I find that if people are a------s to me, it’s a bad festival, but if people are nice and they like to talk and joke around, it’s a good festival, even if you make a little less money,” Boonma explained.
Boonma also explained the pros and the cons of making a living through selling at festivals.
“Festivals,” he said, “take on the personality of the people who are running them.”
He mentioned that some venues will return the vendors’ money if the rain or the wind drives away too much business, but others won’t.
“Because of greed,” Boonma thought, “[the organizers] turn something great into nothing, into crap, because it affects the vendors’ attitudes.”
Whether you want a little bit of philosophy or political discourse, or rides, toys, t-shirts, hats, jewelry, woodcrafts, embroidery, leather goods, food, a stress test or even some perfume, the Liberty Festival is the place to find it.

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