HILLSDALE, N.Y. >> Anne Saunders, artistic director at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, goes way back with this event.
"We started out in 1988," she recalled. "We were at Catamount Ski Area in Egremont with one stage over two days. We didn't have a lot of camping that year, unless you wanted to tie yourself to a pole before going to bed. A ski resort has mostly hills, obviously."
These days, the festival runs three days, has expanded to four stages and embraces more than 40 acts. It relocated to Hillsdale in 1991, first to Long Hill Farm and then in 2005, to its present location at Dodds Farm. Both sites have more gentle landscapes than a ski area.
"We now have multi-generational families coming to the show," said Saunders, who started out as a volunteer at the event. "Mothers with their kids and their kids' kids."
And yes, said Saunders, she is not alone in her perfect attendance.
"We have people who have been to every one so far," she said.
Saunders explained that Falcon Ridge "is extremely weather-dependent. It always has been. That said, we expect anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 people per day this year."
The headliner this year is singer/songwriter Tom Rush, a legendary performer who has been played before audiences since 1961. Rush has recorded more than 25 albums, and in 2011, released a CD celebrating his 50 years as a performer.
Also on the weekend bill on both Saturday and Sunday are Nerissa and Katryna Nields, as well as Patty Larkin, The Felice Brothers, Matt Nokoa and Annika Bennett, back this year after winning the Newcomer of the Year Award at the festival last year.
In addition to more than 40 performers on the four stages, the festival offers an Emerging Artists' stage. That stage will feature 24 new acts on Friday from noon to 4 p.m.
Their sets will be two-song, 10-minute sets, said Saunders. The intent is to expose these acts to a wider audience then they have previously experienced.
The event officially starts on Friday, but on Thursday, from 2 to 7 p.m., the festival offers a pre-festival "Tasting Day," sponsored by the Copake-Hillsdale Farmer's Market. "Tasting day" offers beer, wine, cakes, cookies, jellies and jams and other items, all locally produced. A total of 18 vendors participate, according to Saunders.