GLENS FALLS – The GEM Festival is back for round two at The Shirt Factory this year.
It was announced in a press release on Thursday that the event will take place on July 9. Doors are scheduled to open at 10 a.m. and the event will continue until 10:30 p.m.
Guests under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the event.
The Glens Falls Entertainment & Music Festival also announced a partnership with North Country Arts to help facilitate this year’s community arts program at the event.
The release says NCA’s primary goal has always been to create outlets that serve to support, exhibit and promote artists in Upstate New York.
The fine arts festival, once held in downtown Glens Falls, moved to The Shirt Factory last year due to COVID restrictions.
Eric Unkauf, owner of The Shirt Factory, said social distancing requirements prompted the move.
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“There wasn’t really a way to do it in the format it had been done in before. When they moved it, I know the musicians and artists really loved the place,” he said.
Unkauf said the artists had great sales at last year’s event and the musicians enjoyed playing on a bigger stage. The performers had previously performed on smaller stages at local establishments.
He said he couldn’t believe organizers were able to squeeze the huge stage onto the lawn of The Shirt Factory.
“It’s a completely different atmosphere and feel to the event than playing on what would be considered a professional stage by anyone,” Unkauf said. “And obviously the bands are able to play in front of a much larger audience.”
According to Unkauf, foot traffic inside The Shirt Factory increased during last year’s event.
He described it as a “pretty decent day” for sellers in his building. Unkauf noted that he still had people who had lived in the area for decades who never knew The Shirt Factory was at 71 Lawrence St.
“When you have one of these special events, it helps bring people out who wouldn’t normally come into the building,” he said.
Events such as the GEM Festival also attract people from out of town.
Unkauf said while this increased foot traffic to his establishment, it also presented an opportunity to attract more businesses locally.
“Not only can they visit The Shirt Factory, but hopefully they’ll see what Glens Falls is like. Maybe they check it out after or come back another day to check out some of the other stuff that’s going on,” said he declared.
The shirt factory is also set to host a food truck event that will benefit the southern marathon dance, with a tentative date of May 13 scheduled from Friday afternoon. The ball is scheduled for the same day.
Unkauf said The Shirt Factory held a similar dance event last year. He described it as a scaled-down version of the Thursday Market and Food Truck Corral which is scheduled to take place every Thursday from May 19 to September 8.
“I think I’ve heard of 10 or 12 food trucks taking part in it, so it’s going to be a decent event,” Unkauf said of earning the marathon dance.
Unkauf said Thursday Market and the Food Truck Corral will welcome new vendors this year. The weekly event will run from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. every Thursday.
The Shirt Factory is also looking to book music numbers during some of the Thursday Market and Food Truck Corral dates. Unkauf is still finalizing the list of acts to be performed.
“Jason Irwin is the one who books all the music for me. I know he’s about to book stuff, but there are still some loose ends here,” Unkauf said.
He’s also hosting a Pinewood Derby on June 18 for the Boy Scouts at The Shirt Factory. Unkauf said the Boy Scouts needed a spot and he accepted.
“I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting things for kids to do,” Unkauf said. “I have always opened my eyes to things of general interest that may be here.”
Jay Mullen is a journalist for The Post Star covering the city of Glens Falls, Warren County and crime and the courts. You can reach him at 518-742-3224 or [email protected]