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The summer months are when people are the most carefree. Office chairs go vacant as beaches and lake houses crowd. Tourists from all over flock to regions like the Catskills and the Poconos. One of the main events that draws them to our neck of the woods is Wally Lake Fest. Amidst all the entertained partygoers enjoying live music, food specials and craft vendors, the area’s workforce see the festival through a different lens.
As the days of summer grow longer, life gets easier—for some. Wallenpaupack-area workers share a general consensus: Wally Fest is chaotic. With the huge influx of tourists to the area, it’s time to go haywire or go home. Most businesses pull out all the stops. Food and drink specials, in-house music and lively atmosphere are all on the menu, but it takes careful planning and diligence to make it all happen.
Travis Lugo, chef at Glass. Wine. Bar. Kitchen., says that planning is absolutely essential. It was through planning that Wally Fest came about in the first place. “This weekend was originally a dead weekend. It was created to increase the flow of business throughout the area.”
At the close of its 10th year, business during Wally Fest boomed. Glass was among the locales that reveled in the success of the annual festivities.
Lugo and staff members spent extra time in the kitchen preparing for the madness. Slicing, dicing and portioning foods ahead of time helped the process run smoother as the restaurant was busier than usual. Glass’s kitchen pushed out extra amounts of signature dishes: Moroccan fish tacos, mac and cheese and a red pepper coulis salmon dish.
Lugo added, “Some of us laughed, some of us cried. But it’s rewarding in the end.”
At the Wilsonville campground, the Hopkins family shared in some of those laughs and tears. Amy Hopkins, whose family owns the lakefront campsite, has to be extra strategic with her planning to accommodate the extra lake traffic.
“The campsite fills up for Wally Fest like it does for a holiday,” she said. “It’s like Fourth of July or Labor Day.”
Hopkins’ family offers both tent and trailer camping. They also provide security for campers, which they give extra attention during Wally Fest.
“Luckily we haven’t had any incidents yet, but it’s always good to be careful,” Hopkins said.
What she and her family are most dreading is the “Wally aftermath,” that involves picking through the campground laboriously for all the trash left behind by campers.
Tourists travelling to Wally Fest never miss a Dunkin run before they hit the water, and Joe Sullivan, manager at Dunkin Donuts in Hawley, is there to accommodate the heightened demands for caffeine and donuts.
Sullivan says the best way to handle Wally Fest traffic is to “make sure we’re all being productive, and nobody’s chattering about their social lives.” Sullivan runs a tight ship, but did a great job, as all of his staff came out unscathed—this year at least.
“Last Wally Fest I got a coffee thrown back at me through the drive through window,” he said, “so I guess it was a better year this time.”
With Wally Lake Fest’s 10th year done, Lake Region staff members and workers alike can finally wipe the sweat from their brow, sit back and enjoy a reprieve. They’ll be the only ones who welcome Monday.