Hobofest and a tent for the community

SARANAC LAKE – Hobofest organizers have less than a week to raise money to purchase a community tent.

Right now, the Kickstarter campaign for the purchase has 32 backers and only $1,605 toward its $25,000 goal. The pledge drive ends at 5:06 p.m. Tuesday, June 10. The organizers don’t get any money unless the entire goal is reached.

“This is the opportunity for people to show their support, but it’s twofold,” said Hobofest organizer Peter Seward. “Hobofest is the catalyst for this to happen, but for people to be enticed by this idea, they have to think about more than Hobofest. Our vision for it is admittedly a big one, but we’re looking at the dynamics of Saranac Lake and how it’s growing.”

Seward said the 40-by-80-foot tent would fill the green space next to the train depot, providing respite from rain or the sun during the free, all-day music festival the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

The tent could also be relocated and used by other community groups for their events.

Financially speaking, the community tent would shave the cost of renting a tent off of the Hobofest budget, and it would significantly reduce that cost for other events.

Todd Smith, in addition to being a co-founder of Hobofest with Seward, is the president of Adirondack Sustainable Communities, a nonprofit organization that carries several community projects including Hobofest, the Community Garden and the Farm to Fork Festival. He said any requests to use the tent would go through that organization, and any organization or event that is good for the community could potentially use it.

“They would submit the project, and they would probably be responsible for setup, tear-down and cleanup costs for the tent, which would probably be a nominal charge,” Smith said. “We would try to assemble a volunteer group and train them for that. Saranac Lake is very good for that volunteer labor force. If it somehow came down to it that nobody was available, we could hire a group that’s used to putting these tents up and pay them a wage, but it’d still be a substantial discount.”

Past Hobofests have largely been funded through New York State Council on the Arts grants, merchandise sales and donations. Smith said the money saved on tent rental, plus any extra money raised from the Kickstarter campaign, could be put toward investing more funds for the performers, procuring a stage and several small accessory vendor tents. Most musicians performed for free at early Hobofests.

In anticipation of meeting the $25,000 goal, Seward and Smith have invited the eclectic and melodically old-fashioned band the Resonant Rogues, of Asheville, N.C., to perform at the Left Bank Cafe in Saranac Lake from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 14. Seward said the show will still happen if the goal is not met, and it will likely serve as a fundraiser instead.

The Resonant Rogues will also perform at the sixth annual Hobofest on Aug. 31, along with Woody Pines, the Back Porch Society, Crackin’ Foxy, the Stone Fleet, Jeremiah Weed and the Wilde Flowers, the Honey Dewdrops, Lew Dite and a group of local jazz musicians who will pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s album, “A Love Supreme.”