Hobart Book Village hosts jazz weekend; mulls festival

Above: Victor Mullen and John Mahoney install the art for their Jazz Soiree exhibit weekend at Liberty Rock Books. Photo via the Hobart Book Village Facebook page.

The Hobart Book Village will hold a Jazz Soiree and Sale from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 2, featuring live jazz music, jazz workshops, a free screening of Ken Burns' film "Jazz" and the sale of a private collection of over 2,000 Jazz LP and 400 plus CD's. All events are free, and all are welcomed.   Read more

This Weekend: Our guide to the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice

Above: Sila, an Inuit throat singing duo, will perform at the festival on Aug. 1. Photo via the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice website. 

Over the past few summers, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice has traveled (musically, at least) all over the world. 2013’s fest focused on Italy and Germany with works by Verdi and Wagner, and last year’s covered the music of Spain. But this year the annual event, now in its sixth year, is bringing it all back home with a program devoted to American melodic traditions. And luckily, we’ve got a lot of ’em.  Read more

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

The Catskills comes to Queens

Above: Joseph DiStefano (left) and Chef David Noeth of NY Epicurean Events at M. Wells Steakhouse, Long Island City, Queens. Photo by Stanford Chiou.

Catskills-made cider, craft beers, cheeses and meats are coming to the Flushing Town Hall in Queens this Saturday at a new tasting event that aims to bring mountain foodies and city dwellers together.

The Catskills Comes to Queens” is the brainchild of David Noeth, a Catskills-born chef who has logged time at The Four Seasons and the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and at the Catskill Mountain Lodge in Palenville, and Joseph DiStefano, a Queens-based food writer for the New York Times, Gourmet and his own website, Chopsticks and Marrow

The two have founded a new business, New York Epicurean Events, which is based in the Delaware County hamlet of Delancey, Noeth's hometown. The Queens event is the first of many farm-to-table festivals the pair plan to produce with the goal of boosting “culinary and agricultural and culinary tourism in the Catskill-Delaware New York City watershed.”   Read more

Phoenicia Voice Festival grows “five times bigger” for its sixth season

Above: Maria Todaro, center, at a choir rehearsal for the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which opens today. Photo by Paula Ann Mitchell.

It takes luck, miracles and a hero or two to make a music festival happen. That’s how Maria Todaro sees the sequence of events leading up to the annual Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which begins today, Wednesday, July 29.

In mid-July, the festival’s 28-piece orchestra suddenly lost its rehearsal space in New York City, and Todaro was frantic. She rallied the support of festival patron and fellow musician Mark Holland, who happened to call her about getting tickets.

“I said, ‘Can I ask you a favor? Can you go look at some rooms for me?’ He went to visit 20 churches in the city,” Todaro said. “He called me at midnight and said he found the Riverside Church. That was incredible. Every day, there’s a miracle like that.”

Todaro, the festival co-founder and executive director, is exhaling this week now that some of the last-minute problems of finding housing for 69 of the 132 guests artists and tapping the generosity of local restaurants and volunteers to feed them have been solved.

There have been other last-minute strokes of luck.  Read more

Delaware County Fair won't ban Confederate flags

Above: A tractor decorated with an American flag and a Confederate flag in Delaware County. Photo by Julia Reischel.

The New York State Fair has banned sales of merchandise bearing the Confederate battle flag, but the Delaware County Fair will not follow suit. 

The flag, the best-known symbol of the southern rebellion in the U.S. Civil War, became more divisive than at any time since the end of that war after nine African-American people were killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. on June 17.

The man charged with the crimes, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was pictured on a website posing with the flag and other emblems associated with white supremacy. The ensuing controversy led to the removal of the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse on July 10. Many national retailers, including Wal-Mart and Sears, have stopped selling the flag. 

Above: The board of directors of the Delaware Valley Agricultural Society at the July 27 meeting. The board is wrapping up plans for the upcoming Delaware County Fair. A ban of Confederate flag merchandise is not part of those plans. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Last month, the New York State Fair announced that the Confederate battle flag would not be welcome at its fairgrounds.

Spokesman Dave Bullard issued a statement:

"The Great New York State Fair is a proud symbol of the heritage, diversity, and great promise of New York State. Our state and our Fair represent inclusion and respect for all. The Fair requests vendors to refrain from selling or displaying items that may offend or in cases of public health and safety. Our vendors have always complied with these requests. The Fair is aware of two vendors who have sold Confederate merchandise in the past. They have agreed not to sell such merchandise at the State Fair."

The Delaware Valley Agricultural Society is the governing body of the Delaware County Fair, which runs from August 17 to August 22 in the town of Walton.

Noting the state fair’s ban, Leslie Kauffman, a 4-H club leader and a co-superintendent of the rabbit barn at the Delaware County Fair, contacted Ed Rossley, the president of the society's board of directors, to request a similar ban.

Rossley brought the issue to a Monday, July 27 meeting of the board of directors, reading an email message from Kauffman.

“She wants to know what you think about Confederate flags at the fair,” he said.

“The more of them, the better,” replied Director Norm Kilpatrick.

  Read more

NYC woman found with 499 bags of heroin during Hancock traffic stop, police say

Above: Close to 500 bags of heroin were found in a car headed from the Bronx to the Delaware County village of Sidney on July 25, police say. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

A woman driving from the Bronx to the Delaware County village of Sidney was found with 499 bags of heroin when she was pulled over for a traffic violation on Saturday, July 25, police say.

Left: Sonia Ramirez. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.  

Fifty-three-year-old Sonia Ramirez of Ottawa, Illinois and New York City was pulled over for speeding on Route 17 in the village of Hancock at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, according to a press release from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

While talking to Ramirez, Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Karcher allegedly smelled marijuana in her car. When he ran her driver's license, he found that it had been suspended.

Karcher arrested Ramirez for speeding and for operating a vehicle with a suspended license.

Then sheriff's deputies and Ozzie, a drug-sniffing police dog, searched Ramirez's belongings.  Read more

The Cannonsville Dam isn't leaking, DEP finds

Above: A rendering of the drilling incident that caused muddy discharge at the base of the Cannonsville Dam, according to the NYC DEP. Source: NYC DEP.

The Cannonsville Dam isn’t leaking, an investigation by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has found.

After a mysterious muddy discharge appeared below the dam on July 8, fears that the dam was compromised prompted the DEP to draw down the reservoir and warm communities downstream

Now the DEP knows that the sediment leaking into the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream of the dam isn’t coming from the earthen dam itself, DEP spokesman Adam Bosch said on Friday, July 24.

Instead, the sediment is coming from a silt layer in a rock embankment about 50 yards away downstream where contractors were drilling on July 8, Bosch said.   Read more

Delhi bridge repairs cause worries, business losses

Above: Contractors work on the rehabilitation of Delhi's Kingston Street bridges. The bridges carry Route 28 over the West Branch of the Delaware River. Photo by Robert Cairns.

The mayor of the Delaware County village of Delhi says that work on the main river crossing through the village is behind schedule, but a New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) official disagrees. Meanwhile, a Delhi flower shop on the island between the bridges under repair is struggling as construction limits access to her store.

The Kingston Street bridges, a matching pair of steel spans, carry Route 28 over the West Branch of the Delaware River into the village center from the south. Since mid-May, traffic has been limited to one lane as DOT contractors carry out a long-delayed construction project.

Mayor Richard Maxey, at the Monday, July 20 meeting of the Dehil Village Board of Trustees, said that work on the bridges is behind schedule by “at least two months, I would think.”

He said that contractors found more deterioration in the structural steel than expected and had to make unexpected repairs.  Read more

Dahlia's Delights sandwich stand in the national radio spotlight

Above: Dahlia's Delights. Photo by Jason Dole/WJFF.

If you're a regular at Dahlia's Delights, a White Sulphur Springs ice-cream-and-sandwich stand, you may hear yourself on National Public Radio this weekend.

NPR's Weekend Edition is profiling snack stands across the country, and is working with local Catskills station WJFF 90.5 FM in Jeffersonville to produce a radio story about Dahlia's, which serves a surprisingly extensive array of gourmet paninis made with ingredients grown in an on-site garden.

Dahlia's Delights opened in 2013, and is now entering its third season in a walk-up window on Route 52 in Sullivan County.  Read more

Delaware County adds dedicated drunk-driving prosecutor

Above: A police officer making a drunk driving arrest. Photo by Flickr user Jeffrey Smith.

Delaware County will have a full-time prosecutor for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) cases following action of the county's board of supervisors on Wednesday, July 22.

The board adopted a resolution creating a new position in the couny district attorney's office.

The resolution states that the county “recognizes that effective and efficient prosecution of DWI offenses in the local criminal courts is needed, but is time consuming and requires specialized training and experience.” It notes that the current assistant district attorneys “have extensive caseloads relating to non-DWI offenses” and says a full-time DWI prosecutor “is necessary.”  Read more

Pedal mettle: Mountain biking and road cycling in the Catskills

Above: A mountain biker races in Hurley in 2013. Photo by Tim Kleeger of Fats in the Cats.

The Catskill Mountains were made for road cycling and mountain biking, with miles of paved, lightly trafficked roads and rugged mountain trails. For those who love to shred shale, the region is a mountain biker’s paradise.

The FATS IN THE CATS BICYCLE CLUB (fatsinthecats.com) has over 150 members and has been around since 1994, with rides for bikers of all abilities, including a weekly “newbie” rider group.  Read more

ATV riders find body in Mountaindale

Above: Post Hill Road, center, runs through a wooded section of the hamlet of Mountaindale. Image via Google Maps.

People riding ATVs on Post Hill Road in the Sullivan County hamlet of Mountaindale discovered the remains of a human body on Friday, July 17, according to the Times Herald-Record

The remains of the body ... were so badly decomposed, all that was left was bones, according to Town of Fallsburg Supervisor Steve Vegliante. The sex of the remains was unknown, he said he was also told.

Authorities are refusing to say much about the discovery while they investigate, the paper reports.  

This weekend: The Catskills Forest Festival

Above: A rough beginning of a wood sculpture of a bear made by Samsonville wood artist Hoppy Quick. Quick will be at the Catskill Forest Festival this weekend. Photo via Hoppy Quick's Facebook page

Woodchips will fly in Margaretville's village park on Saturday during the Catskill Forest Festival, an annual showcase of forestry and woodsmen skills and products.

This year, the organizers at the Catskill Forest Association promise that lumberjacks will compete to show off their cutting skills, a sawmill will turn logs into usable boards and craftsmen will turn trees into sculptures. (Ulster County artisan Hoppy Quick is planning to create a few bear sculptures on the spot during the festival -- see his photos above.)   Read more

BBQ in the Catskills

Above: Brisket, pulled pork, chicken and ribs at Catskill Mtn. BBQ in Grand Gorge. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Barbecue fans will drive long distances for their fix of smoked pork belly and brisket. Here’s where to get barbecue in the Catskills. 

The Tannersville version of AMERICAN GLORY BBQ (6033 Main St., Tannersville. 518-822-1234. americanglory.com) opened in August 2014, serving North Carolina-style pulled pork, brisket (chopped or sliced Texas style) and St. Louis-style ribs, all smoked over maple wood for hours.

Above: Ribs at American Glory BBQ in Tannersville. Photo courtesy of American Glory BBQ.   Read more

Lexington hosts first-ever broadband pep rally

Above: Adam Cross, left, the code enforcement officer for the town of Lexington, and Kim Do, a part-time Lexington resident who helped compose the "Broadband Anthem," at the Broadband Pep Rally on July 18. Photo by Julia Reischel.

A boisterous crowd of between 150 and 200 people gathered under a pavilion in the Greene County town of Lexington on Saturday, July 18 to demand broadband high-speed internet service in their remote Catskills town of 805 people, where even old-fashioned landline telephone service is spotty and cell phone service is nonexistent.

The rally, which was organized by resident Bonnie Blader, aimed to convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration to fund half of a $3 million project to lay 76 miles of fiber optic cable to 90 percent of the town’s residents.

To set the mood, group of singers in cowboy hats performed a “Broadband Anthem” set to the tune of the “Rawhide” theme song.  Read more

DEP drains Cannonsville Reservoir after drilling incident

Above: The Cannonsville Dam, looking upstream toward the Cannonsville Reservoir. The dam’s release chamber is a rock structure surrounded by a road on the righthand side of the image. Muddy water began flowing into the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream of the release chamber on July 8. Photo via the NYC DEP. 

After drilling caused a worrisome gush of muddy water downstream of the Cannonsville dam in Deposit on Wednesday, July 8, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is draining the Cannonsville Reservoir as a precaution while it makes repairs.

On July 8, contractors working for the DEP drilled several test borings into a rocky embankment about 50 yards south of the downstream base of the dam where a hydroelectric plant is slated to be built, according to DEP spokesman Adam Bosch and a series of press releases.  Read more

Steve Earle hosts Catskills songwriting camp

Above: Steve Earle at the 2014 season of Camp Copperhead at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian. Photo by Michael Bloom via the Camp Copperhead website.

Steve Earle fans are eagerly awaiting the second edition of Camp Copperhead, a four-day songwriting intensive led by the renaissance man and songwriter’s songwriter at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian next week.

Ever since his “Guitar Town” hit the top of the country charts in 1986, Earle’s been writing protest tunes and love songs, transcending genre and medium; along the way he’s become an actor and a novelist.

Camp Copperhead, according to a video interview Earle with American Songwriter magazine, will feature morning master classes with Earle followed by small group poetry and guitar workshops with guest artists.

“We’ll have an open mic every night, and we won’t rest until everybody’s played a song,” he says.   Read more

DEC officer frees bear cub from jar stuck on its head

Above: DEC Conservation Officer Anthony Glorioso and the jar he removed from a bear cub's head on June 30. Photo courtesy Anthony Glorioso.

A black bear cub that got its head stuck in a plastic jar was freed by Greene County DEC conservation officers after a four-hour stakeout in the Catskills hamlet of Palenville on June 30.

The cub, stumbling blindly with its head stuck in a large opaque plastic jar, was spotted by residents and an electrician around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30.

And the cub wasn’t alone.

“The mother came galloping through our yard,” said Gail Richards Dedrick, who lives on Palenville’s Maple Avenue. “I had seen the bear before, but I had never seen it move that quickly and determinedly.”

Above: The bear cub with a jar on its head. Photo by Gail Richards Dedrick. 

Just as the mother bear disappeared, a bear cub blundered into the yard from the other direction, Dedrick said.

“It was stumbling around, and you could hear it,” she said. “The bear was bumping into trees.”

Dedrick’s husband tried to free the bear himself, but the jar was stuck tight.  Read more

Delaware County's freshest batch of restaurants

Above: Clams casino at Maplehurst, a new Italian restaurant in Roxbury. Photo by Rebecca Andre.

New eateries are popping up across the Catskills -- so many, in fact, that we can't list them all in one story. In Delaware County alone, in the central and western Catskills, seven new restaurants have recently opened their doors. 

Goatie Whites 
46 Depot St., Fleischmanns

Above: A happy customer at Goatie Whites. Photo by Rebecca Andre. 

Owner Bob Zellner’s goatee is the inspiration for the name of this new ice cream parlor and café at the corner of Depot Street and Route 28 in the village of Fleischmanns. Zellner and his wife, Norika, are both longtime Delaware County locals who began serving Perry’s hard ice cream and soft-serve custard on Memorial Day.  Read more

Take a dip: Where to swim in the Catskills

Above: Belleayre Beach at Pine Hill Lake in July 2014. Photo by Jonathan Garin.

In the Catskills, there’s a secret swimming hole in almost every town. (If you ask nicely, a local may point you in the right direction.) Here are a few of the best known publicly accessible swimming spots, from lifeguarded beaches to swimming pools to blue holes in the wilderness.

SWIMMING HOLES

BIG DEEP is a beloved woodsy swimming hole with a rope swing on the Saw Kill. East of town on Route 212 in Woodstock.

Above: Peekamoose Blue Hole. Photo by Tim Cox. 

PEEKAMOOSE BLUE HOLE, an icy cold, deep blue basin, is tucked into the woods near the border of Ulster and Sullivan counties. From Route 28A in West Shokan, go 10 miles southwest on County Road 42.  Read more