Arkville Day a blast from the past

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By Joe Moskowitz
For the first time since the 21st century began, Arkville had its day. It included a big parade and an even bigger crowd on Saturday as the tradition was renewed. It was Arkville Day. This, somewhat scaled down, revival was the idea of the Town of Middletown. Each community within the town is celebrating its 250th birthday this summer.

The first Arkville Community Fair was held in the early 1980s. The cash strapped hamlet needed money for a water system upgrade and members of the community spent a year planning the first event to raise funds. It was always held on the second Saturday in June. That’s because the weather was usually good, there were no conflicting events and schools were still in session so there would be bands in what organizers Bill Bode and Glen Mills always promised would be a “humongous” parade. They always delivered, including members from the Mattituck Fire Department who traveled more than 200 miles from the East End of Long Island.

Long gap between events
But Arkville Fire Chief Rob Sweeney, one of a handful of people who were involved in Arkville Days said that the Town of Meredith scheduled its Dairy Fest on the same day, and it took away vendors and had sponsors. The Maple House, which is next to the fire hall, was sold to people who were somewhat less accommodating. So, in the year 2,000, the parade rolled for the last time.
But now it’s back. It’s July and school’s out so there were no bands, but everyone the News spoke with on Saturday who remembered the old days say they were glad. Sweeney says it was good to see cars and people lined up along the streets. Fire department member Jessica Olenych coordinated the event and she says she sees no reason why they can’t do it again next year. And Sweeney says once “the dust settles”, they will look at what went right or wrong and start thinking about next year.

Times have changed. There may have been no beer and faces that may not look familiar to the locals but at least one thing remained the same, the firefighters from Mattituck made the long trip upstate to help Arkville celebrate its day.