This year will be the 45th of that beloved Armonk tradition, the annual Fol-De-Rol. From June 6-9, residents and visitors will flood Wampus Community Park to enjoy rides, food, vendors, entertainment and more – there will even be a pig race–all arranged for and run by the Armonk Lions Club, to raise funds for their many charitable endeavors.
“It takes you back,” North Castle Town Supervisor Michael J. Schiliro, a longtime Armonk resident, said of the Fol-De-Rol. “It’s a throwback–a simple country fair.”
Schiliro said preparation for the event isn’t too demanding for the town. They plan for police presence, and ready the park. The volunteer firefighters make sure a truck is there. The advance work is really done, he said, by the Lions.
“We plan all year,” said Douglas Martino, president of the Armonk Lions Club. “In January we kick into high gear.” Members of the Lions get permits and insurance and get vendors–an extremely time-consuming process, Martino said. “We don’t like to have two of the same type of vendor.”
Categories such as jewelry may have duplicates, because attendees appreciate choice in certain categories, but overall there’s a three-person committee that seeks to find a diverse and interesting group of vendors who sell everything from pet food to local honey.
“During the event itself we man the ticket booths, set up for the vendors and help them, help set up the tables and so on,” Martino said, adding that the Lions also arrange for lavatories. They bring doughnuts and coffee to the vendors early in the morning to show appreciation as well. “We sell raffle tickets throughout the event,” Martino said. First prize will be $1,000.
A Way to Mark the Years…
Stacy Wilder has lived in Armonk for 25 years. And over time, her experience at the Fol-De-Rol has changed. For a while, she took her children to the rides. “It’s nice to have something so local, without having to go to Playland or Great Adventure,” Wilder said.
As Wilder’s children got older, they wanted to go to the Fol-De-Rol with their friends. “It’s like a rite of passage in Armonk, to go at night with your buddies,” Wilder said. Now, Wilder attends by herself. She enjoys seeing the many people she knows in town, and perusing the vendor’s wares.
And Bring in New Faces
Neal Schwartz, owner of Armonk-based College Planning of Westchester and president of the Armonk Chamber of Commerce, always set up as a vendor at the Fol-De-Rol when his business was new and he was looking to get to know people in town and spread the word about his services in a friendly way, without a hard sell. “That was how I connected to the community,” he said.
Schwartz said besides benefitting good causes, “the biggest benefit (of the Fol-De-Rol) is that some people may not have been familiar with Armonk and might never have been here before. It certainly brings people to town and keeps them in town for that particular weekend and there’s natural overflow.” Attendees often seek out local restaurants for a meal before or after, Schwartz said.
The Fol-De-Rol has even caused interest in living in Armonk, Schwartz said. “The hope is–and it’s happened–that they’ll come and then they’ll say, ‘This is where I want to live.’”
“The Armonk Lions Club gets all the credit in the world for putting this thing on–and then they put the money back into the community,” Schiliro said. “It’s a win-win-win-win-win.”
The Armonk Lions Club helps fund scholarships every year, built a gazebo in Wampus Park, and underwrote the North Castle Citizen’s Council Disaster Relief Trailer, among many other local contributions, Martino said, adding that they’re always looking for new people to join the Lions. The Lions also donate to Open Door medical centers, Meals on Wheels, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and many more, especially sight-related charities. The Armonk Lions is sponsoring Lea, a puppy who is part of the program Puppies Behind Bars. Lea will be trained by an inmate at the Bedford Correctional Facility and hopefully one day will become a service dog for an injured veteran or first responder.
“If it’s a nice day–and that’s the risk factor in all this–you’re outside,” Schwartz said of the Fol-De-Rol. “What’s not to like?”