Stockade Faire Returns to Uptown Kingston October 2 | Chronogram Magazine

Stockade Faire Returns to Uptown Kingston October 2

The Block Party Takes Over Wall & North Front Streets & Coincides with a New Art Festival

In 2018, local business owner Sean Nutley conceived of an idea to give his October sales numbers a bump: the Stockade Faire. A year prior, he had transplanted his high-end kitchen and home goods shop Bluecashew from Rhinebeck to North Front Street in Kingston. “In retail, October is a slump period before the holidays,” Nutley says. “I was trying to figure out a way to bring business into the Stockade District.”

Nutley is no stranger to event planning. Years ago, he left a career in fashion PR in Manhattan to move into the event space, coordinating fashion shows, film festivals, and the like. Locally, Nutley was helping coordinate Marist College’s Silver Needle Fashion Show until the pandemic took things online. He is also the force behind the annual blowout Catskill Roller Disco, which every July brings world-class DJs to spin music while a costumed crowd rolls around the rink shakin’ it. “I throw a good party,” Nutley says with a chuckle.

Working with his life and business partner JT McKay and Lovefield Vintage owners Darbie Nowatka and Justin Rice, Nutley envisioned Stockade Faire as a collaboration between the Uptown Kingston businesses and the Phoenicia Flea—a sort of one-day, one-stop-shop retail extravaganza with a focus on makers and small shops set to a backdrop of danceable music. “We have such an amazing group of businesses, I figured this would be a great way to showcase them,” he says. “So we brought in some DJs and just had a block party with all the businesses on North Front Street.”

According to Nutley, the jump in sales numbers from the first event was “dramatic” for the participating businesses. Mission accomplished. So in 2019, they did it again, expanding the programming and the music and getting more businesses involved. “The second year it became huge—there were over 5,000 people,” Nutley says. “The movement was on.”

A Growing Affaire

Pandemic hoop-jumping put the kibosh on last year’s event, but this year, the Stockade Faire is back and bigger than ever. Taking over North Front Street and, for the first time, Wall Street on Saturday, October 2, the Stockade Faire brings together 55 business sponsors, 28 maker booths, seven live music acts, 10 DJs, and a family fun area, plus Hogs & Hotrods, a vintage car show curated by the ever-cool crew at Pugsley’s. “I grew up here,” Nutley says. “I remember when Kingston was tumbleweeds. I love this city. To have this business community that grows together is amazing.”

The block of Wall between John and North Front Street will be bookended by stages. On the vintage Stagecoach Stage, at the corner of John Street, Hotel Kinsley will present an afternoon of live music running 12-6pm, curated by Drew Frankel (of Impact Concerts and Levon Helm Studios) and Kyle McEvoy (of record label Sonder House). The lineup will feature Heathered Pearls, Angela Bove, Patrick Collins, Jules Olson, Paul Moody, Lovechild, and, as headliner, ambient jazz performer and bassist Spencer Zahn.

On the North Front Street Corner: the “DJs for Climate Action” Stage will feature beats programmed by music producers Eli Goldstein of Soul Clap and Zev Eisenberg, who is half of the DJ duo Wolf+Lamb and also chief of Hudson Modern. Music will run from 11:30am to 11pm, and include sets by Tinkerism, Morgan, Schneur/Mister Rogers, ROBERT, DJ Hawx of Weird Rooms). Internationally renowned dance music DJ and producer and Hudson resident Tedd Patterson will close things out with a set that kicks off at 9pm. Patterson is a regular in the DJ booth at Battle Hymn in Manhattan, House Of Yes in Brooklyn, and with Horse Meat Disco circuit.

White Rabbit Audio will be setting up speakers down the blow all the way to the Front Street Tavern to create what Nutley calls a “cavern of music.” There will be light shows on the buildings and go-go dancing platforms, with performers styled by Le Shag beauty salon. “We’re turning North Front Street into a disco,” Nutley says, “It’s going to be amazing.”

OMG Art Faire

For the first time, the Stockade Faire will coincide with a new event: the OMG Art Faire, a four-day showcase of local and East Coast artists curated by Janet Hicks of One Mile Gallery. In a barter exchange with real estate bigwig Neil Bender, the event will take over the historic back space of the Wall Street Music Hall (formerly home to BSP).

As he sought to increase the physical and economic footprint of the event, Nutley wanted to engage Wall Street and thought to do it through visual art. He reached out to Janet Hicks, the director of Kingston-based One Mile Gallery and VP of the international nonprofit Artist Rights Society. Hicks jumped at the chance to curate a multi-gallery show in the backroom of BSP. With her gallery still shuttered out of caution for COVID, she launched in headlong, founding OMG Art Faire.

“There are art shows all over the Hudson Valley—but you have to travel all over,” says Nutley, explaining. “Here we are putting 20+ galleries in one space with hard walls and lighting. People can walk around.” The show features local artists, many of which are represented by galleries in the city and so don’t often show locally; artists from galleries throughout the Northeast; and even work by Bard students. The mediums span from photography and painting to sculpture, performance, and site-specific installations, taking over the sprawling 23,000-square-foot space with built-out pop-up gallery booths. “Janet has engaged the whole space,” Nutley says.

Over 22 galleries and artists will exhibit at OMG ArtFaire, including Jane Lombard Gallery, Jim Kempner Fine Art, Field Projects, One Mile Gallery, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, 11 Jane Street, Jane Deering Gallery, High Noon Gallery, Theodore Art, BK Projects, Ver Sacrum Fine Art, Cade Tompkins Projects, Soapbox Arts, and Alabama artist collective Gee’s Bend Quilters. Individual artists on view include Samantha French, Aaron Hauck, Kyle Meyer, Mike King, and artist/filmmaker Guy Maddin. At the VIP opening tonight, September 30, artist Jim Watt will perform 1000W, his multi-dimensional project with jazz musicians.

Much Ado

Despite the fair’s goal of generating more business for local retailers, makers, and artists, the event has sparked controversy in a city struggling with gentrification and a housing crisis amid the ongoing stresses of COVID.

Earlier this week, Kingston resident Ali Gruber (known to many as DJ Ali) took to the airwaves to discuss Stockade Faire with Erica Brown on her Radio Kingston show “Let’s Talk, Kingston.” Gruber summed up the public discontent saying, “I don’t think there is a perfect way to do anything, but I do think that...language is really important. I think transparency is really frickin’ important…Instead of saying this event is sponsored by Neil Bender, the language is like ‘oh the Heermance Family Farm’ and ‘using the Wall Street Music Hall.’ There isn’t a lot of transparency, it’s very opaque and vague. If you want to be straight up, ‘Yes I support gentrification, this is what I want. I want rich people to come, blah, blah, blah,’ that’s great—just be transparent about it and stop fetishizing this local yokel ‘come be a part of this Hudson Valley community.’ Our community is torn apart and hurting right now. I just wish that there would be more transparency around the language that was used to try to get people to be involved in this fair.”

Nutley, who expects the event to draw anywhere from 6,000 to 7,000 visitors, insists that Stockade Faire is intended to be inclusive and uplifting. “The event itself is beautiful—a chance for us all to dance in the streets together,” he says. “Our messaging ultimately is about inclusivity and welcoming new neighbors. This event is funded entirely by local businesses and individuals—none of whom are Neil Bender, but the ‘ambiguity’ most likely stems from a rumor that was spread about Neil Bender funding the event. Anyone who's been to the last two events will tell you it's a beautiful mix on the dance floor of young, old, long-time locals, and newcomers alike. All things said, this is a free community event with an open invitation to everybody.”

OMG Art Faire runs from September 30 through October 3 at Wall Street Music Hall, and Stockade Faire will take place on October 2 on Wall and North Front streets in Kingston.