For more than 30 years, LarkFest has been one of the most anticipated events on the calendar for Albany residents and nearby university students.
Much of those three decades have been marred with inordinate amounts of public drunkenness and noise complaints spurred by rambunctious college students who make their way to Lark St. for the biggest one-day street festival in New York State.
This year was a bit different. The rambunctious college students were still there, but the amount of public drunkenness was much more manageable than inordinate.
“I missed LarkFest my freshman year—last year—so I’m pretty pumped to finally check it out. All my friends got there earlier today. I had to cut out of work early to get here,” said Saint Rose student Paul Quinones as he closed in on Lark St.
While it’s fun to walk around Lark St. looking at the plethora of street vendors and musical acts, the scene is much different for someone who is of legal drinking age.
“Ever since I was a freshman, LarkFest has always been my favorite Saturday of the year, but it’s even better now that I can get into the bars on Lark St.,” said Ali Faber, SUNY Albany senior.
Her partner in crime for the day was Anika Janssen, who was a bit more blunt about what her activities for the rest of the day would consist of. She said, “I’ve been here since noon and I’m not leaving until the bars close.”
According to the official LarkFest website, there were some 80,000 people in attendance. That number would suggest that several attendees would have run-ins with the law, but according to WNYT.com’s Dan Levy (via the Albany Police) there weren’t any incidents reported as of Monday morning.
LarkFest is considered a local event, but that didn’t stop some people from traveling a couple of hours up I-87 to see the festival for themselves.
Michelle Falese, a Junior at SUNY New Paltz, heard about the legend of LarkFest and decided to take the two-hour drive north up the interstate.
“Even the people at my school talk about how fun Larkfest is. I drove here from New Paltz just to see the bands here today,” she said, as she put on a Pocahontas-esque bandana that she had recently bought from a street vendor.
There’s no doubt that LarkFest is the biggest attraction that the Capital District has to offer, but the secret has been pretty well-kept. Binghamton University student Matt Polistina had no idea what he was in for when he decided to partake in LarkFest for the first time.
“I tagged along with a couple of my friends from Binghamton to check out what this was all about. I looked it up online and thought that it was basically just a small party in the street, but it’s obviously more than that,” he said, taking a swig from his Poland Spring bottle that may or may not have been Poland Spring water.
To put it simply, LarkFest is a mob scene. Everywhere you walk, you’re shoulder to shoulder with the person next to you. Despite the claustrophobic atmosphere, you won’t find many people without a smile on their face.
The ban on alcoholic beverages worked exactly how Albany Police wanted it to. After the Kegs and Eggs debacle nearly two years ago, it was nice to see the Albany residents and university students in the same vicinity without any major issues.
Translation: LarkFest was a success for everybody involved.