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Parktoberfest unifies local community

By Tess Gee
On November 5, 2013

  • Parktoberfest, hosted by local non-profit Friends of Northampton, was held in response to the relocation of Monroe County Fair Nov. 2. Tess Gee/STAFF WRITER

The Friends of Northampton hosted "Parktoberfest" Saturday Nov. 2 at the Brockport Elks Lodge. The event included music from local Rochester band the Krazy Firemen, food, a cash bar and numerous raffle items. It was an Oktoberfest-style party, with traditional German music and polka but the band also played some rock 'n' roll and jazz tunes. 

About 150 members of the Brockport community came out to eat, drink and dance in support of the organization and their cause. 

Parktoberfest was the first event held by the Friends of Northampton, a non-profit citizen watchdog group formed only three months ago in response to the Monroe County Fair being relocated to Northampton Park, a county park off of Route 31 between Brockport and Spencerport

For decades, the Monroe County Fair had always taken place at the Dome Arena site in Henrietta, which is currently in the process of being sold to a third party. 

The new fair site proposal includes the construction of eight permanent structures on park lands. When the Monroe County legislature voted 20-nine to move the fair to Northampton last June, Brockport citizens immediately protested citing costs and preservation of park lands as their reasons. 

The organization said the construction for the fair site will drive out native species and endanger the park's wildlife. The park itself sprawls across almost 1,000 acres and is home to an array of plants and wildlife, hiking trails, athletic fields and picnic areas. It has been a community gem for years, and the Friends of Northampton are putting forth a large effort to keep it that way.  

Dennis Kindred is the President of the Friends of Northampton and the tuba player for the Krazy Firemen. He said the nonprofit group had to form out of necessity about three months ago. 

"In order to raise funds we had to form a not for profit organization," said Kindred. "We're against what you call alienation of park lands. Our belief is that this is not only illegal, but if you look at our complaint it was a backroom deal."

 Before the votes were cast in June, residents said they believed that the decision had already been made months prior in backroom dealings amongst Republican legislators. This could be linked to the fact Kindred said the Fair Association had promised $500,000 towards a new fair site once the Dome Arena had been sold, which still hasn't come to fruition. 

But despite the fact that the county still hasn't received the full amount of funding they were promised, construction has already begun.  So far a horse arena has been built, but the cost is unknown due to the fact that Monroe County will not disclose that information. 

"[The park] was purchased by federal and state funds to be a natural preserve. This promise of it being a small little agricultural fair- what for profit organization wants to keep something small and not make money," Kindred said. "We've been lied to about a lot of things."

Despite the grim outlook of the fate of Northampton, "Parktoberfest" had a celebratory atmosphere. The Krazy Firemen volunteered to perform at no cost for about three and a half hours while people ate, drank and put in tickets for various raffle items. Raffle prizes included wine and cheese baskets, gift certificates to local businesses, kitchen items, spa packages and pet supplies. 

Members of the community came out not only to have fun, but to support the organization's cause. Dillon McCarthy, a local resident, said he is a big supporter of citizen activism.  

"It's nice to see people gathered and getting informed about how some people in our government wish to use it for their own agendas as opposed to helping the community at large," said McCarthy. 

All of the admission and raffle ticket money from "Parktoberfest" will go straight to the organization's legal bills. The Friends of Northampton are filing a lawsuit against Monroe County after a county judge told them they have no standing in court. The group wants to appeal that decision but needs $50,000 to do so. They said they are about halfway to their goal.

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