Saratoga New Year’s Fest Boasts Cowboy Junkies, More

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Local organizers have officially previewed a slightly-revamped version of the city’s high-profile and long-running downtown New Year’s celebration (historically known as First Night), which has been absent for two years due to public health and funding concerns. 

What is now being billed as the Saratoga New Year’s Fest, the event can be described as a “version 2.0 of First Night,” which for over two decades has drawn thousands to the Spa City for a multi-venue stroll of entertainment attractions, a 5K road race, and late night fireworks. That name change was forced, in part, due to certain First Night franchise terms that prevented key format changes that were planned.  

While the legacy stroll aspect continues, those changes include: 

  • An emphasis on nationally-touring musical acts 
  • The movement of the popular 5K Road Race to New Year’s Day 
  • The return of fireworks, now scheduled for 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 
  • The introduction of non-music, daytime activities on both New Year’s Eve and Day
  • The inclusion of certain new venues that were formerly contractually forbidden
  • The offering of meal and adult beverage service in select venues, including the City Center 

A first-round of music announcements was made, featuring: 

  • Canadian legends Cowboy Junkies 
  • ‘Dorm Rock’ kingpins The Samples 
  • 90’s indie singer-songwriter Jeffrey Gaines 
  • The Grammy-winning, Garcia-inspired Deadgrass & Friends 
  • Jazz charts-topping funksters the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio 
  • Nashville’s country music rising star Jenny Grace 
  • with more names to come … 
The Samples

City Hall Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran is credited with putting this plan into motion, part of  his stated mission of using his office to assist the local tourism & hospitality sectors emerge from the  COVID era. 

His first effort was to reach out to local native Robert Millis, whose 398Group performs the art of  business turnarounds, with a specialty niche of music festivals and performance spaces. Together, they developed a strategic plan for developing sustainable operating and financial models of achieving this goal, to both convene the immediate edition but to also ensure future editions as well. 

To that end, the city’s key tourism industry leaders were advised of the effort, and three of them joined the pair in establishing a working consortium to not only capitalize the Fest but also successfully deliver it. That Consortium of Founding Sponsoring Organizations – a creative blend of public, private and non-profit entities – is composed of: 

  • The City of Saratoga Springs 
  • The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce 
  • The Saratoga Springs City Center 
  • Discover Saratoga 
  • The 398Group 
Jeffrey Gaines

The City’s business community has since stepped up as well; with six of them “believing in the  mission” and also offering to fill the remaining capital need to ensure the project’s viability. They are: – Death Wish Coffee (the title Sponsor) 

  • The Adirondack Trust Company 
  • Bonacio Construction 
  • The Colwell Law Group 
  • Stewarts Shops 
  • The Saratoga Springs Special Assessment District 

Additional planning support has been donated by the Downtown Business Association, the Saratoga  Springs Preservation Foundation, other City Hall departments and several local businesses. 

Pricing for the Fest is VERY reasonable: $25 ($20 in advance) for all-venues access and $100 ($75 in  advance) for the VIP Experience, which includes reserved seating for the headline show, a roasted  chicken dinner and parking. Bring the kids: under 16 are Free if accompanied. Interested parties can track the Fest’s progress, join the Sponsorship family and/or buy tickets at or on its Facebook page @SaratogaNewYearsFest.

Comments are closed.