Friday, June 08, 2012

Special Saturday

     In GreeneLand, in the course of a single day, June 2, residents and visitors took part not only in the routines of shopping, ball games, gardening, televiewing, loafing, cleaning, eating, but also in a rare assortment of special events.
     Some of them looked over this year’s cleverly made cat figures, displayed on Main Street and elsewhere in Catskill Village.  Some made a tour of the Rip Van Winkle figures that were scattered among the mountain towns.  And around 10,000 fans of bluegrass and rock music gathered at Hunter Mountain for the Mountain Jam.  They were entertained on separate stages by 50 bands.  Saturday’s rain-dampened offerings concluded with a tribute ramble for the late Levon Helm.
      In East Durham, motorcyclists gathered in and around Weldon House for a conclave hosted by the Troy-based chapter of Hells Angels.  Attendees were offered, we understand, food, beer, tattoos, bike games, music and midget tossing, along with dictum to arrive with “no bad attitudes.”
      Nearby, in the Town of Durham, including the hamlets of Cornwallville and Oak Hill, Greene County Historical Society members hosted their 37th annual tour of historic homes.  Under cloudy skies and occasional drizzles, some 200 visitors were given a special reason to get acquainted with some of our most picturesque, bucolic territory.  They journeyed from the former Lyman Tremain opera house (now the cozy Yellow Deli, run by adherents of the Twelve Tribes) to, among other stops, an old homestead with general store, a Federal-style brick home with adjacent barns and gardens, a venerable farmhouse with a panoramic valley view, an Arts & Crafts home, a restored church, a school house dating from 1840.  They also were invited to visit the Durham Center Museum.  Thanks to those tourists’ purchases of tickets (with maps and guidebooks), plus sponsorships and a grant (from Nick Nahas), the 2012 tour of historic homes (and other buildings)  brought to the Historical Society—for its acquisitions, cataloguing, storing, lending, publishing, restoring, conserving--an increment of $6200.
    Up in New Baltimore, meanwhile, the Van Etten farm’s 22nd annual Antique Machinery and Agriculture Festival (qua Ag Fest) offered hundreds of Saturday visitors a taste of earlier days, what with hayrides, an antique tractor pull and a look at old farm implements, along with a silent auction, vendors’ products and entertainers.
    In Catskill, Saturday’s special events began with Spring Rush.  That test of fitness, started seven years ago by school teacher Patrick Hernandez, and subsequently managed by high school students, drew hundreds of triathletes for its challenging mix of 2.5-mile run, 10-mile bicycle pedal, and mile-long kayak paddle.
   Going by the clock, Catskill’s special Saturday concluded at the Freightmasters building at Catskill Point, where 510 revelers converged, in fancy dress, for the 24th annual Columbia Memorial Hospital Ball.  Specially honored on the occasion was Jane Ehrlich, the hospital’s president and chief executive who, said host Marlene Brody, “in only 18 years…transformed a sleepy country hospital into a state-of-the-art facility.”  Thanks to sponsors ($1000 to $25,000), to contributors ($500), and $500 ticket buyers, as well as regular ticket buyers ($375), plus journal advertising (40 pages) and donated beverages (Hudson Wine Merchants, Chatham Wine & Liquor, Fairview Wine & Spirits, Kinderhook Wine & Spirits)—and after the costs of valet parking, decorations, fine food, attentive table service, tent rentals, invitation and journal design and printing, and Stan Rubin’s 15-piece Dance Orchestra--netted about $400,000.
     Most important of Saturday’s special events, however, was the mid-afternoon program at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.  Celebrated there, and at four other places outside of GreeneLand, in conjunction with National Trails Day, was the opening of the greatly expanded Hudson River School Art Trail.  That project opened first in 2005, with eight developed trails leading visitors (with maps and explanations) to country scenes where Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Jasper Cropsey, Asher B. Durand, Sanford Gifford and other painters created pictures—now collectors’ items of immense value—that came to be known collectively as works of the Hudson River School.  To the original eight sites, all in Greene and Columbia counties, nine have now been added.  They are in New Hampshire, Wyoming and Massachusetts as well as New York.  Installed at each site is a reproduction of the painting that resulted from the originating artist’s presence there.  What is more, each Trail site is depicted vivdly, and its place in art history is adumbrated, in a video that was created with substantial help from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The results of that work are accessible at http// or Saturday’s celebrations at the various kick-off sites attracted lavish news media coverage.  For creation of the Trails, for their expansion, and for the richly informative videos, to quote The Almanac Weekly, Catskill’s  Cole Site was “the epicenter.”

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