Great American Weekend returns for a 38th run

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There was enough shade to provide some relief from Saturday's muggy heat. Cooler temps and lower humidity expected today.

GOSHEN – Saturday morning, 9 am, marked the start of an annual tradition so rich, so well known and so well established, it can be argued that it defines the sense of community for the Village of Goshen. In fact, you could even make the case that this event would be splashed across the masthead of any proverbial or literal brochure or pamphlet about Goshen, it’s attractions and events.

Indeed, the Great American Weekend, or GAW, has come a long way in its 38 years. To give some context to the path GAW has taken, and how it’s prestige and scope has grown over the decades, consider this excerpt pulled from the Goshen Chamber of Commerce Website.

“Originally intended to bolster attendance at the Historic Track after betting was eliminated, the Great American Weekend offers activities for every member of the family and has grown into one of the county’s most prestigious events.”

GAW runs on the Saturday and Sunday closest to July 4. Hours today are 9:00 to 5:00. Over 150 vendors are participating this year, each with a unique element added to the collective marketplace.

New this year was a handy printed schedule of events. The brochure, which was organized as a quad-fold two sided document, featured a map in the two interior center flaps, of the booth numbers encased in a triangular outline of the park where GAW is held, complete with bold faced red lettering spelling out the nearby main roads on the three angles of the triangle. The brochure also gave days, times and locations of various activities as well as a full directory of vendors on the left most interior flap.

“This event takes a good amount of teamwork every year to put on,” Mark Kalish, Goshen Chamber of Commerce President said. “We get a lot of vendors by word of mouth and it’s just really great for the community.”

Barbara, Martinez Executive Director of the Goshen Chamber added: “The new brochure acts as a map for attendees.” “It gives them a way to get around with getting too lost and helps them make sure they don’t miss things they may want to do or see.”

The VFW Post 5497 along with the Orange County Italian Americans receive the proceeds gained by the sale of food during the GAW.

One of the vendors at GAW this year is VET2VET, a state funded, non-profit geared to helping veterans in among other ways, by curbing veteran suicide and homelessness. Among VET2VET’s services offered through its network are peer mentoring, suicide prevention, PTSD treatment and housing and homelessness services.

“We currently have 240 members in the Hudson Valley Vet Task force,” Larry Neumann, one of the organizations representatives in attendance at GAW said. “Our services are offered to vets at absolutely zero cost.” “Through our work we’ve found that homelessness, a major problem for veterans, is never the only issue that particular veteran is facing and it’s our mission to see that those issues are solved.”

With local chapters in Orange Dutchess and Putnam Counties, VET2VET is putting on a veteran appreciation day August 31 at Dutchess Stadium. For their part the Hudson Valley Renegades per minor league baseball rules, will be dawning new uniforms, changing their name to the Hudson Valley Veterans and changing their logo for that day, a once a season provision offered all minor league teams.

The organization is also involved in a women’s veterans census taking place beginning August 1 and concluding December 31. More information can be found at their website.