This Weekend: Rosendale Pickle Festival

Photo by Liz West, via Flickr. 

The humble cucumber has a celebration all its own this Sunday: the Rosendale Pickle Festival.

This will be the festival's 17th year. Over 6,000 people are expected to come to the Rosendale Community Center seeking a pickle fix, according to the Daily Freeman:  Read more

NY's top court: Palenville Pagans deserve religious tax exemption

Above: The Maetreum of Cybele's headquarters in Palenville in 2010. Photo by Julia Reischel.

In a curt decision issued on Tuesday, Nov. 18, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that the Maetreum of Cybele, a monastic branch of Paganism with a headquarters in the Catskills, is entitled to a religious property tax exemption from the Greene County town of Catskill.

The decision ends a five-year court battle between the Maetreum and the town. Beginning in 2009, Catskill refused to grant the Maetreum a property tax exemption for the group's Palenville headquarters. The town's lawyers argued that the building did not qualify because it was used as a residence by the religion's founder and some of its followers.   Read more

West Kill man dies in ATV accident

A 55-year-old West Kill man died Monday, Nov. 17 when the all-terrain vehicle he was riding flipped over on a private trail in the Greene County town of Lexington, according to a statement released by New York State Police.

Local resident Bronislaw Czarniak was riding the ATV down a hill in the Beech Ridge area when the right front wheel went off the track, causing the vehicle to flip over, police say. Czarniak was ejected from the vehicle. He was not wearing a helmet. 

Czarniak was pronounced dead at the scene. 

State troopers investigating the incident were assisted at the scene by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officers, Greene County sheriff's deputies and the Lexington Fire Department.

The Phoenician, Ricciardella's newest restaurant, opens

The Phoenician on Nov. 16, 2014. Photo by Julia Reischel.

After 14 months of renovations, the Phoenician, Mike Ricciardella's fourth restaurant in the hamlet of Phoenicia, is open.

The restaurant is perched on the banks of the Esopus Creek, in a building that housed Al's Seafood Restaurant for over 70 years. After Ricciardella bought the structure in 2012, he tore half of it down and rebuilt it from scratch. 

"It looks so much bigger," Ricciardella said. "Nobody ever believes me, but from one end to the other, it's the same footprint."

The revamped restaurant's construction has faced criticism from some of its neighbors. But Ricciardella said that all of the Phoenician's permits are in order. The restaurant's septic system has been inspected and approved by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Ricciardella said.

"I've had them in there three or four times," he said. "I wanted them in there from the start, so that there would be no problem."  Read more

New technology center opens at Roxbury school

Above: A video report about the grand opening of the Numann Technology Center, produced by Vecc Videography. 

Roxbury Central School has a new technology center filled with banks of new desktops, laptops, and tablets, and decorated with the whimsical interior design style of a Sillicon Valley start-up.

The Numann Technology Center, funds for which were donated by philanthropist and Roxbury local Guy Numann, held its grand opening ceremony on Friday, Nov. 14 after two years of development. A large crowd of elected officials filled RCS's auditorium to celebrate. 

Numann, who graduated from the small rural school in Delaware County in 1949 and went on to have a career in technology, hopes that state-of-the-art software and equipment will inspire students to start their own tech and science businesses at home instead of leaving the rural Catskills for jobs elsewhere.  Read more

A new snow

Above: Snow-covered Hamden in Delaware County, looking toward Franklin, shot from the air at 7:50 a.m. on Nov. 14 by Jessica Vecchione of Vecc Videography.

It snowed throughout the night in the Catskills, according to Hudson Valley Weather's Facebook page. Authorities are warning of black ice and slickness on the roads this morning.

Yep, winter has arrived. 

What does it look like where you are? Send your best snow shots to [email protected], share them on our Facebook page, or upload them to our Flickr page

Number of reservoir boaters grows; majority are locals

Above: A paddler heads down to the shore of the Pepacton Reservoir during the 2014 boating season. Photo via the NYC DEP's Flickr page. 

In the three years since the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) opened four of its upstate reservoirs to recreational boating, the number of people taking advantage of the program has steadily grown.

On Nov. 13, the DEP released its statistics for the 2014 season, which lasted from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with the announcement that visits to the Pepacton, Neversink, Schoharie and Cannonsville Reservoirs have hit a new all-time high of 1,182. 

In 2013, the total number of visits to all reservoirs was 1,074. That's a 10 percent rise, which is better than the average stock market return.  Read more

This Weekend: WaterMusic

Above: Michael Pinciotti's neon water installation. Pinciotti is one of 18 artists featuring work in the Catskill Art Society's "River and Biota" exhibit, which has its final weekend on Nov. 15 and 16.

Water is an ever-present fact of life in the Catskills--especially in the small towns that have seen frequent flooding in the last few decades.

It's also an ever-renewing source of inspiration for artists and musicians, from 18th-century German composer George Frideric Handel to local artists like painter Kathe Frantz and composer Andrew Waggoner, the artistic co-director of the Jeffersonville based Weekend of Chamber Music.

On Nov. 15, the Catskill Art Society is hosting a multi-media arts event featuring music, video, and art installations, all inspired by water.

Left: Weekend of Chamber Music's Andrew Waggoner. Photo by Tom Bushey.

It's the last weekend of the gallery's "River and Biota" exhibit, curated by Naomi Teppich and featuring water-inspired works by 18 local artists, including Michael Pinciotti (above), and Kathe Frantz (below).   Read more

A Catskills rhapsody: "To Be Forever Wild"

David Becker released "To Be Forever Wild," a documentary film about the Catskills, in the summer of 2014. The project has been four years in the making—we interviewed Becker back in 2012 about his plans for the film, which was shot and edited collaboratively with the help of a large crew of volunteers. This fall, Jenna Scherer, our arts correspondent, got to watch the finished product. Here's her review. - Ed. 

The Catskill Mountains are hundreds of millions of years old, formed by eons of sedimentary accumulation, continental collision, glacial erosion and deforestation. But for every new generation that claps eyes on the region, it’s something brand new.

That sense of novelty and aw-shucks wonder is the engine that fuels "To Be Forever Wild," filmmaker David Becker’s new documentary about the Catskills and the way they make people feel.

Left: Director David Becker, photographed at Dibble's Quarry in the Catskill Mountains.

The film covers 12 days in the lives of Becker his crew, a group of young artists, filmmakers and musicians—mostly from New York City—as they head north to do the mountain thing. Along the way, they rub elbows with knowledgeable locals versed in everything from geology to fly-fishing—and, of course, Sullivan County homeowner and movie star Mark Ruffalo.

As a director, Becker goes out of his way to capture a sense of motion and life, taking the camera on cliff jumps off the edge of waterfalls, on zip-line rides through the tree canopy, and careening down scenic sunlit highways.

The in-between moments in this movie are about the crew finding creative inspiration in their surroundings: folky jam sessions around a campfire, sketches at Artist Rock in Greene County, and antique-camera photos of swimmin’ holes.

This can all feel a little precious at times, but fortunately, that’s not the meat and potatoes of the film. That would be Becker’s motley mix of interview subjects, who all get jazzed about the Catskills in different ways.

Among them are natural historian Michael Kudish, who leads the film crew into the woods as he cores a bog; Ellen Kalish of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, who rehabilitates injured owls and hawks; and Lama Karma, a monk from Woodstock’s Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery, who emigrated to the region from Tibet. The diversity of perspectives gives you an appreciation of just how many different ways there are to look at a place like this.

Becker's muse is 19th-century naturalist John Burroughs, the Catskills’ own famous essayist and conservationist. But "Forever Wild’s" spirit is closer to that of a group of little kids who appear early in the film, waxing rhapsodic about sticks.

  Read more

Man accused of smuggling drugs out of Covidien found not guilty

Left: Jason Wilsey. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.  

The Walton Reporter's Lillian Browne has the news today that an employee accused of smugglng oxycodone out of a prescription narcotics manufacturing plant was found innocent of the crime in a swift decision by a Delaware County jury on Nov. 5. 

Thirty-four-year-old Jason Wilsey was acquitted in less than an hour, Browne reports.

According to the story, Delaware County District Attorney Richard Northrup argued that Wilsey stole the oxycodone from a blending room at Covidien, a narcotics manufacturer based in Hobart where he worked.   Read more