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Spring in the air at Tulip Fest

Sunday, May 11, 2014
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Rubblebucket performs on the main stage during the 66th annual Tulip Festival at Washington Park in Albany on Saturday, May 10, 2014.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
Rubblebucket performs on the main stage during the 66th annual Tulip Festival at Washington Park in Albany on Saturday, May 10, 2014.

— James Gutta and Greg Tompkins knelt with smartphones in hand, taking closeup pictures of flowers of many shapes, sizes and, most noticeably, colors.

As the aromas of barbecue chicken and fried dough wafted around them and a jam band played in the distance Saturday at the Tulip Festival in Washington Park, the two Troy men were glad to stop and smell the flowers.

The friends, both natives of East Greenbush, were posting the photos they took to Instagram using “Albany” and “Tulip Festival” hashtags.

“It looks like a lot of work,” said Tompkins, 22. “It’s gorgeous.”

“It’s a beautiful burst of colors everywhere,” said Gutta, 23.

More than 100,000 tulip bulbs blossomed for the festival, a spring tradition that pays tribute to the city’s Dutch heritage. The festival, which continues today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., features a lineup of bands, crafts and fine arts and plenty of food.

Saturday events included the crowning of the Tulip Queen and bands — including Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket and singer-songwriter Mike Doughty — playing at the Parade Grounds and the Lakehouse amphitheater. Today’s events include the naming of the Mother of the Year at noon in the amphitheater and more music on both stages.

“It’s amazing how it brings everyone together, you know?” Tomkins said Saturday afternoon. “I’m pretty sure everyone from Albany is here right now.”

The sun was out, and he was glad the forecast of rain didn’t come true.

“We parked like a mile away, but it’s such a beautiful day, who cares about walking?” Tompkins said.

Across the concrete path at another bed of flowers, Lora Kanetzky directed 8-year-old Ransell Segura’s attention to a small sign that featured the different flowers’ names. His orange shirt was as bright as the orange Ballerina lilies in front of him.

“They’re cool!” said Ransell, the son of Kanetzky’s fiancé.

“He’s in Garden Club in school, so we’re taking the chance to kind of, maybe, learn something,” Kanetzky, of Stillwater, said.

Ransell remembered some names.

“Daffodils, Queen of Night. I don’t know the other ones,” he said.

For Gutta and Tompkins, and so many others in the Capital Region, the festival marks the beginning of spring. The free festival is produced with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

“It’s a great celebration,” Gutta said. “It doesn’t feel like spring or summer to me until right here.”

 
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