By Marisa Patwa
The Newburgh Fiddler Fest started as a party on the riverfront in the 1960s and has continued ever since.
The festival has been passed from group to organization over the years, including the Merchants, Historic Newburgh Inc., and Friends of Newburgh, who hosted it this past weekend.
"It's been 60 years of fishing and fiddling on the river," said board member Mae Mason.
For $10, people are given the option to have two fillets or two fiddlers, a side of corn, coleslaw, bread, pickle and onion alongside a view eating of the riverfront. There is also time to enjoy music from bands like the PJ Hayden Band, Chris Wischer and Sassybrown Bluegrass. While kids were able to play games, make crafts and take a trip down an inflatable slide.
Board member Melissa McGuire said they just recently started including fillets and they have become a popular part of the festival.
"This was the first year we've ran out of
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fillets, which is quite unusual," she said. "In fact, Bill Byers is out right now searching for some more, but I eat the fillets more, too, because I don't like the fiddler bones."
The proceeds of the Fiddler Fest also always go to a local charity, Mason said.
"The Fiddler Fest is all about having a good time, eating good and giving back to those nonprofits," she said.
McGuire said they have been sponsoring the festival for the past 10 years, but that those passionate about keeping it alive have been aging out.
"Our organizer, Bryon Sherman, helped set up on Friday, but he had to go to the hospital for bronchitis," McGuire said. "All of us are in our 60s and 70s."
She said she hopes a younger generation shows an interest in taking over the Fiddler Fest because of how fun, but also integral it is to the end-of-summer Newburgh culture.
"It's simply tradition," she said. "What is Newburgh without the Fiddler Fest?"