How to spend Columbus Day weekend in the Catskills

Above: Sugar maples. Photo by DeirdreLovesTrees, submitted to the Watershed Post Flickr pool.

This is it: The peak of fall. Columbus Day Weekend is the biggest weekend of the year in the Catskills, the time when the leaves peak in glorious colors and the fullness of harvest sets in. Come out and paint a pumpkin, crunch a crisp apple and savor the last live outdoor music of 2015. Here’s our guide to what’s up where from Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12. 


It’ll be a farm-fresh feast at Sunday’s Octoberfest Pig Roast at Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow. If you’ve never tasted an Ossabaw Island heritage breed pig, you have no idea what roast pork can taste like; they’ll be roasting a whole one and serving it up with authentic German-style sides like spaetzli and sweet and sour red cabbage. Plus, you can meet a newborn alpaca. Sunday, October 11, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. 


Arts and healthcare come together at the O+ Festival

Above: Collage of musicians playing this year's O+ Festival. Image from O+ website.

More then 60 musical acts, 25 artists, a kick-off parade, workshops and classes and a late-night literary salon come to Kingston this weekend during the O+ Festival (pronounced “oh-positive”), which was founded in 2010 to bring free healthcare to broke artists and anyone else who might need it.

With the slogan “Apply Pressure and Elevate,” this year’s three-day, weekend-long celebration begins on Friday, Oct. 9 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 11. The heart of the event is the wellness clinic, where doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers volunteer to give free healthcare to all comers.       

  Read more

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

Businesses still not sold on Delaware County bed tax

Above: Town of Stamford Supervisor Mike Triolo, chairman of the Economic Development Committee of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, makes a point about the proposed bed tax to business owners who gathered on Monday. Photos by Robert Cairns.

Delaware County's board of supervisors is set to introduce legislation to impose a two-percent hotel occupancy tax.

At a public information meeting held on Monday, Oct. 5 in Delhi, Delaware County Economic Development Director Glenn Nealis said that the proposed local law will be introduced at the Oct. 14 meeting of the supervisors and that a public hearing would likely be scheduled for Oct. 28, prior to another board meeting.

At the meeting on Monday, Nealis and town of Stamford Supervisor Michael Triolo, who chairs the board's economic development committee, fielded questions and comments from about a dozen people who attended.

Nealis explained that county leaders are contemplating the “bed tax” as a means to fund tourism promotion. He explained that Delaware County currently spends $95,000 per year on such promotion, while “some of our neighbors are spending $800,000 to $950,000.”

He cited sales tax figures from 2012--the most recent year for which figures are available--which showed that $9.7 million was spent on lodging in Delaware County that year. Based on those sales, the county could expect to receive $192,000 in bed tax revenue.  Read more

Troopers arrest "barricaded subject" in Walton after tense standoff


UPDATE: New York State Police have confirmed to Action News that a man is in custody, after a standoff situation Tuesday...

Posted by WBNG-TV Action News on Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Update, 2 p.m., October 7, 2015: The New York State Police have released a mug shot and a press release about a standoff between a Walton man and state police that ended peacefully last night after nine hours of tense negotiations. 

At 11:49 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 53-year-old Arthur E. Veprovsky grabbed a "long gun" and threatened to kill his girlfriend and police officers in his home on Third Brook Road in Walton, according to the press release. The girlfriend had left the house safely by the time police arrived, police say.

Left: Arthur E. Veprovsky. Photo via New York State Police. 

Police surrounded the house and attempted to talk to Veprovsky, who reportedly refused to cooperate. New York State Police Crisis Negotiators and the state police Special Operations Response Team then arrived in Walton to set up a perimeter around Veprovsky's house, closing Third Brook Road.

Throughout the day, Veprovsky "still refused to surrender," police say. Finally, police officers sent a robot into the house and "made visual contact with Veprovsky," according to the press release. At around 9:30 p.m., tactical officers entered his home and arrested him, according to the press release.

Veprovsky was arrested and charged with misdemeanor menacing in the second degree and was arraigned in the town of Walton court. He is being held in the Delaware County Jail without bail. Police say that additional charges are pending.

Original story: A "barricaded subject" in a residence on Third Brook Road in the Delaware County town of Walton caused a tense standoff with police that ended with an arrest around 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, according to WBNG and state police sources. 

The incident began in the afternoon as a domestic disturbance, according to scanner traffic, and escalated into an hours-long standoff between the male subject and New York State Police, according to State Police spokesman Nathan Riegal.

A man inside the residence on Third Brook Road refused to come out or cooperate with police, Riegal said.

  Read more

Ticket giveaway: Taste of the Catskills Festival

Above: One of Catskill Puppet Theater's giant puppets at the Taste of the Catskills Festival. From the Taste of the Catskills Festival website. 

Giant puppets, a bocce tournament, the "Farm Olympics," a horse show and live music on two stages come to Delhi this weekend during the Taste of the Catskills Festival, an annual harvest celebration held on the grounds of Maple Shade Farm, sponsored by Catskill Mountainkeeper and 

The Watershed Post is giving away three pairs of free tickets to this year's Taste of the Catskills Festival. (Update: the free tickets are gone. Thanks!)  Read more

Two weeks left to submit your photos

Above: Anna doing barn chores at Pepacton Farms in Bovina. Photo by Laurie McIntosh, submitted to the 2016 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest.

You've got two weeks left to submit your photos to the 2016 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest for a chance to win a $75 gift certificate from the Peekamoose Restaurant and Tap Room. Check out the great entries that we've gotten so far by clicking here or viewing the slideshow below. To enter the contest, click here

2016 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest

Races to watch in Schoharie County this election season

With all 16 town supervisor seats up for grabs and three major countywide offices also slated to be on the Nov. 3 ballot, it is setting up to be a contentious season of vigorous campaigning in Schoharie County.

Although County Treasurer Bill Cherry has become a lightning rod in local politics, he will not be facing a challenge in this fall's election. Neither will County Clerk Indy Jaycox nor County Judge George Bartlett. All three officials are Republicans. 

Currently controlling 10 of 16 seats on the county board of supervisors, the Republican Party is looking to strengthen its numerical advantage with challenges to Democrat incumbents in the Schoharie Valley. 

However, despite the GOP's advantage, few if any party line votes occur on the county board. Instead, supervisors regularly vote together across party lines, a result of differences stemming from a collection of new reform-minded legislators that have clashed with members of the good old boys network.

Below, we have highlighted three of the more interesting fall match ups in three towns in Schoharie County.  Read more

Soldiers remove deadly strainer from Esopus, warning sign installed

Above: New York Army National Guard soldiers clear a section of the Esopus Creek where a 14-year-old girl drowned last month. In the foreground is a swiftwater rescue boat that was lost in an attempt to recover the girl's body. Photos by Julia Reischel.

On Friday, Oct. 2, the Army National Guard removed a deadly pileup of logs from the Esopus Creek where 14-year-old Jordyn Engler drowned last month.

A warning sign has also been installed, apparently in the last 24 hours, by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) at the entrance to the fishing access point at the Shandaken cemetery where Jordyn Engler died on Sept. 5.

Soldiers operating an excavator and a bulldozer worked for hours Friday morning to remove the logs and debris, known as a strainer, that trapped Engler while she was on a tubing excursion with her father on Labor Day weekend.

Above: The strainer where Jordyn Engler drowned, photographed on Sept. 6, 2015. 

The strainer was a well-known hazard that had first formed in 2005. It has choked that portion of the Esopus Creek for a decade. By noon on Friday, it was gone.  Read more

“I Dream Too Much,” filmed in Saugerties, screens at the Woodstock Film Festival

Above: Diane Ladd plays the formidable Aunt Vera in "I Dream Too Much," a film that was shot in Saugerties.

Katie Cokinos wasn’t too sure the film she had labored over was going to happen until she found Ridgely Manor. The country refuge in the Ulster County hamlet of Stone Ridge had just the right presence to become Aunt Vera’s estate in the feature film “I Dream Too Much.”

Cokinos, of Saugerties, is one of 25 female directors whose work is being showcased at this week’s Woodstock Film Festival, which opened last night and runs through Sunday, Oct. 4.

The film is one of several included this year that either were shot locally or made by a local filmmaker.

The manor house Cokinos chose, which originally belonged to Francis Leggett and Besse MacLeod Sturges Leggett, had been passed down to a Bengali monk known as Swami Vivekananda and later became a Hindu retreat house. Cokinos and her production team fell in love with the imposing yellow estate that stood out starkly from the snowy landscape in the 93-minute film.  Read more

Father of girl who drowned in Esopus Creek speaks out

Above: A cross at an access path to the Esopus Creek where 14-year-old Jordyn Engler died on Sept. 5. Photo by Julia Reischel.

For the first time since Sept. 5, when a family outing on the Esopus Creek turned tragic, Jeffrey Engler is speaking publicly about the accident that claimed his daughter's life.

Fourteen-year-old Jordyn Engler's death, which occurred at the peak of tourist season on Labor Day weekend, shocked communities around the Catskills. The Connecticut teenager drowned during a tubing excursion near a well-known river hazard in the Ulster County town of Shandaken that local tubing companies are known to avoid.

Police say that her death was an accident, and that the investigation into the circumstances surrounding it are closed.

Initially, Jeffrey Engler asked for privacy after his daughter’s death. But in a recent interview with the Watershed Post, Engler described his experience of the day in an attempt to correct what he called errors in police and media accounts of the incident.

Above: Jordyn Engler in an Instagram photo. 

For our Sept. 9 story about Jordyn Engler’s drowning, we relied on first responder and police accounts of what happened. Since the story’s publication, several witnesses, including Engler, have contacted us with new details, some of which conflict with the initial police account.

Captain Kevin Altieri of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated Jordyn Engler’s death, does not dispute the new details. The owners of F&S Adventures Tube Rental, the company that dropped the Englers off at the river, have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Special trip to dangerous site

Engler said that not only did F&S Adventures Tube Rental drop him and his daughter off at the notoriously dangerous tubing site near the Shandaken cemetery, but that the tubing company made a special trip to ferry them there. This is contrary to the initial report from police.

  Read more

Lark in the Park hosts dozens of guided Catskills excursions

Above: A child's-eye view of the Catskills, taken on Aug. 17, 2013 at Hunter Mountain by Andrea Byrne.

The annual Lark in the Park kicks off this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 3 and runs for a week through Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 12. This annual celebration originated in 2004 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Catskill Park, and is an opportunity to immerse yourself in all things Catskills.

The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, the Catskill Mountain Club and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference throw a 10-day party for the Catskills at the peak of the glorious autumn foliage season, a time that many feel is the best time of year: no heat, humidity or bugs.

Above: Portage at Colgate Lake in Greene County. Photo by Karl Anshanslin.   Read more

Minor flooding across the Catskills, with more rain coming

Above: Flooding on Wittenberg Road in Woodstock around noon on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Photo by Benjamin Fenton.

Over six inches of rain have fallen in the past day in the high peaks region of the Catskills, causing minor flooding in streams in Greene and Ulster counties on Wednesday, Sept. 30. 

Schools in the Greene County town of Catskill closed early today, and flooding closed roads in Saugerties and in other locations in Ulster County, including Wittenberg Road in the town of Woodstock near Shultis Farm Road (see above). The Esopus Creek in Mount Marion crested at 21 feet around 1 p.m., a foot below the level where it begins flooding homes, according to measurements from its stream gauge.

Above: High water in the Plattekill Creek in Saugerties. Video by Brian Hubert of the Daily Freeman. 

Minor flooding occurred in many locations throughout the Greene County town of Hunter, which got the most rainfall--about six inches--today, according to John Farrell, the town of Hunter's highway superintendent. 

Above: A map of inches of rain that fell in the Catskills in the past 24 hours, from the National Weather Service. The most rain--more than six inches--fell in Greene County. 

"We had a couple very localized flooding incidents due to debris in the streambeds all over the mountaintop," Farrell said. "A lot of the tributaries. We got a lot of rain up there."

Hunter's highway team managed to clear debris fast enough to avoid closing any roads in the town, Farrell said. The flooding peaked in the town around 11 a.m.

Rainfall in other locations around the region was less severe, and other locations in the Catskills that are normally prone to flooding have escaped problems so far.  Read more

Gilboa and NYPA dams safe after Schoharie County earthquake

Above: A map of the epicenter of the earthquake that hit North Blenheim on Saturday, Sept 26. Map by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

A 3.0 magnitude earthquake that shook Schoharie County on Saturday night, Sept. 26 did not damage the Gilboa Dam or the New York Power Authority's Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project, officials say.

The earthquake, which happened at 11:16 p.m. on Saturday night, had its epicenter in the town of North Blenheim.

According to a map from the United States Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was between the lower and upper Blenheim Gilboa reservoirs that make up the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project (see above).  

Steven Gosset, a spokesman from the New York Power Authority, issued a statement saying that the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project was inspected after the earthquake and no problems were found.  Read more

How Jay Ungar wrote "Ashokan Farewell"

See video

Above: Jay Ungar & Molly Mason perform "Ashokan Farewell."

It took Catskills fiddler Jay Ungar less than an hour to write "Ashokan Farewell," a haunting fiddle tune that has become an iconic folk song covered by legions of fans and memorably used by Ken Burns on the soundtrack of his documentary "The Civil War."

In a story published on Friday, Sept. 25, the Atlantic magazine interviewed Ungar about the origin of the tune, which he wrote in 1982 to commemorate the end of a summer arts camp called Ashokan that he was running with his wife and partner, Molly Mason. (Ungar and Mason still run dance and fiddle camps at the Ashokan Center, in Olivebridge, today.)   Read more

Margaretville family to meet the pope

Above: A screenshot of the Duque famliy being interviewed on CNN

When Pope Francis visits the Our Lady Queen of Angels School in Harlem today, Friday, Sept. 25, a family from the Delaware County village of Margaretville will be there to meet with him.

The pope will be meeting with families of immigrants who have been helped by Catholic Charities, according to the Guardian:  Read more

Find the perfect robot at a pop-up shop in Woodstock

Above: Two of Steve Heller's robots welcome visitors to the Fabulous Furniture Pop-Up Shop at 40 Mill Hill Road in Woodstock. Photo by Karen Falch.

It’s a bit like the Prada Shop at Barney’s without all the haute couture garments, fragrances, footwear and handbags.

Instead, Woodstock’s newest boutique has the exclusive flair of a man cave à la Steve Heller, a celebrated local sculptor.

Picture life-sized robots, tabletop hot-rod cars, exquisite mirrors, rustic coffee tables and a stunning collection of far-out, handcrafted sculptures as only the quirky Heller can produce. Heller's wife, Martha Frankel, calls the 800-square-foot shop at 40 Mill Hill Road the “perfect little bonbon in the center of Woodstock.”

Steve Heller’s Fabulous Furniture Pop-Up Shop opened for a five-week stint on Aug. 29 with the aim of “taking the artist’s work to the people rather than taking the people to his work.”  Read more

Man murdered in Jefferson, police say

A 60-year-old Jefferson man shot and killed a 43-year-old man in the Schoharie County town of Jefferson early on Thursday, Sept. 24 during a dispute in a home on Westkill Road, police say.

Left: Jack S. Macaluso. Photo via the New York State Police. 

Jack S. Macaluso reportedly shot Dale C. McGregor with a long gun during an argument in the residence, according to a press release. McGregor died of his injuries, police say. 

Macaluso was charged with second degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. He is being held in jail on no bail while the investigation continues.

A reporter for the Mountain Eagle was at the scene and has more details:  Read more

Roxbury man arrested for threatening to kill wife and daughter, police say

A Roxbury man who has a history of threatening police and members of Delaware County's Department of Social Services was arrested again on Wednesday, Sept. 23 for allegedly threatening to kill his wife and 14-year-old daughter with a rifle, according to the New York State Police.

Forty-nine-year-old Foster C. Borfitz Jr. was arrested yesterday after a 911 call brought police to a house on Route 30 in the Delaware County town of Roxbury, according to the press release.

Left: Foster C. Borfitz Jr. Photo via the New York State Police. 

Borfitz's family told the police that Borfitz has threatened to kill them, according to the press release:  Read more

Four arrested; large amount of heroin seized in Cairo raid

From left to right: Muhammad Muriel, Furman Gilmore, Michael Richardson and Jessica Richardson. Photos via the New York State Police.

A large heroin trafficking operation based in the Greene County town of Cairo was uncovered by police on Wednesday, Sept. 23 in a raid that netted a huge amount of bulk and packaged heroin, according to a press release from the New York State Police.

Four people, including one man from the Bronx, were arrested after the State Police Special Operations Response Team and air units descended on 53 Lake Mills Road in Cairo on Wednesday.

Police seized 166 bags of heroin and 17 grams of bulk heroin, as well as eight grams of crack cocaine, according to the press release. Police say that the drugs would be worth about $15,000 on the street if sold.

Muhammad Muriel, a 37-year-old man from the Bronx, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and is being held in the Greene County Jail on $200,000 cash bail or $400,000 bond bail.  Read more

Cauliflower festival honors "cabbage with a college education"

Above: Image by Flickr user Liz West

Fields of cauliflower once lined the cool, wet hills of the Delaware County Catskills. The region featured perfect growing conditions for vegetable, which Mark Twain called "cabbage with a college education."

The village of Margaretville was the epicenter of the local cauliflower industry: from the 1920s to the 1950s, the village hosted a cauliflower auction, and generations of nearby dairy farmers used the annual cauliflower crop as a hedge against fluctuating milk prices.  Read more