Boom! Catskills fourth of July photos

Above: Fireworks in Margaretville on Friday, July 3, by Joshua Trupin. 

Happy Independence Day weekend! Here are some photos from around the Catskills this Fourth of July. 

Above: The Independence Day parade in Windham on July 4, by Petra Davenport. 

Above: Jupiter and Venus appear next to each other in the sky during their historic conjuction, which peaked this week on Tuesday, June 30 but which continued to dazzle on Saturday, July 4 in Monticello while the fireworks were popping. Photo by John of Catskills Photography.

Climber falls 80 feet in Devil’s Kitchen, prompting dangerous seven-hour rescue

Above: Platte Clove valley from above. Photo by Daniel Case via Wikipedia.

A climber rappelling in the deadly Devil’s Kitchen section of Platte Clove in the Greene County Catskills fell 80 feet into a rocky gorge and miraculously survived on Thursday, July 2, according to a forest ranger involved in the rescue.

The man, who is in his mid-30s and is otherwise not being identified, was recreating off a slackline that he and two companions had set up across the narrow Devil’s Kitchen valley over Plattekill Creek when he made a “climber’s error” and fell, New York State Department of Conservation Forest Ranger Rob Dawson said today.

Although the man was not wearing a helmet when he fell, he sustained no head injuries and was conscious throughout his rescue, said Dawson, who was one of the first responders to arrived at the scene.

A tree partially broke his fall when the climber landed on the rocky gorge bottom, Dawson said.  Read more

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

This weekend: Fourth of July in the Catskills

Above: Margaretville's Fire Department Field Days and Carnival comes to a grand finale this weekend, July 3 and July 4. Photo by Joe Damone Photography.

We're already written about where to find fireworks on this Fourth of July in the Catskills. But there’s lots of other things going on across the region as well. Here are a few of our favorites, county by county.

DELAWARE COUNTY

On Friday, July 3, the West Kortright Centre in East Meredith celebrates its 40th birthday with a gala dance under the stars with Hazmat Modine, a pan-ethnic roots and blues band. Chicken dinner at 7 p.m.; music begins at 8 p.m. If you were born in 1975 or are driving a 1975 car, you get in free.   Read more

The Calico Indian Dance Showdown brings back the Catskills Anti-Rent Wars

Above: A Calico Indians mask designed by Angelo Vizcarrondo for the Calico Indian Dance Showdown. Photo via Todd Whitley.

During the 19th-century Anti-Rent Wars, poor tenant farmers rebelled against their rich patrician landlords across the Catskills, relying a mix of politics, armed uprisings and subterfuge to dismantle the semi-feudal system that remained in the region. 

In the 1830s and 1840s, rebel farmers disguised themselves in calico dresses and faux-"Indian" masks and roamed the countryside, organizing rebellion. 

Left: Awake! Arouse! Dance! An 1839 poster supporting the Anti-Rent movement in Nassau, New York. From Wikimedia Commons.

The story is like something out of the musicals “Oklahoma” or “West Side Story.” Just replace farmers versus cowboys or Sharks versus Jets with “Calico Indians” versus wealthy aristocratic “patroons.”

This summer, a coalition of Greene County arts organizations is doing just that. 

“As soon as the director of the Zadock Pratt Museum said, ‘There’s this story about poor farmers with their backs to the wall dressing up in calico and sheepskin masks,’ I was in,” said Fawn Potash, the director of Masters on Main Street at the Greene County Council of the Arts. “It’s just too crazy. We had to do something with it.”

Thus was born the Calico Indian Dance Showdown, which may sound like an odd indie band name but is actually a festive historical reenactment coming to three Catskills towns this summer thanks to Mainly Greene, a coalition of Greene County arts organizations that includes the Catskill Mountain Foundation, the Greene County Council on the Arts, the Prattsville Art Center and Zadock Pratt Museum.

  Read more

DEC restricts access to Kaaterskill Falls for summer 2015

Above: The view from the top of Kaaterskill Falls, shot by Laurie Spring-Heckler in the summer of 2013. Access to both the top and the bottom of the waterfall will be restricted this summer.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will restrict public access to Kaaterskill Falls, the most famous waterfall in the Catskills, on Monday, July 6, and will keep it restricted throughout the summer of 2015, according to a press release issued on Wednesday, July 1.

The trail to the base of the waterfall from Route 23A will remain open, but the public will no longer be able to climb, wade in or access the falls itself. 

Access to the falls, which is located in the Greene County hamlet of Haines Falls, will be restricted while the DEC makes $450,000 of "upgrades" in an effort to prevent what has become a regular summer occurrence: people falling to their deaths.  Read more

Catskill Interpretive Center celebrates grand opening

Above: Maurice Hinchey, center, cuts the ribbon at the Catskill Interpretive Center, which is named in his honor. He is flanked by Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, left, and outgoing DEC commissioner Joseph Martens, right. Photos by Julia Reischel.

After 30 years of planning, it took less than a year to get the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center in the Ulster County hamlet of Mount Tremper from groundbreaking to ribbon-cutting.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch former Congressman Maurice Hinchey cut the ribbon in front of his namesake visitors' center, designed to a "gateway to the Catskills" that welcomes visitors to the region on Route 28, in a ceremony at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1.

Hinchey himself did not speak at the event, but listened as a long list of dignitaries honored him and celebrated the interpretive center project.

Calling Hinchey a "living legend," Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said that the interpretive center is "the culmination of an extraordinary number of people simply pushing."

"As the mist rises off these mountains, so too does the veil that has far too long covered this enchanted region," said Rob Stanley, the town supervisor of Shandaken, where the interpretive center is located. "We are here, we are here, we are here."

  Read more

Chamber music kicks off summer of concerts in Tannersville

Above: The Helena Baillie String Trio performs Bach's Goldberg Variations at All Souls Church in August 2014. Photo via the 23Arts Initiative.

The 23Arts Initiative, a Greene County arts organization that launched last year, is bringing rockstar chamber music to Tannersville in a series of free summer concerts in the imposing and intimate All Souls Church. 

The series, which features artists from London and Denmark, begins this weekend on Sunday, July 5 with a performance of Franz Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” led by the Initiative’s summer artist-in-residence, pianist Tanya Gabrielian. Gabrielian’s piano will be joined by the violin, viola, cello and double bass played by Areta Zhulla, Mark Holloway, Paul Wiancko and Tony Flynt.

All Souls Church, perched at the intersection of County Roads 25 and 23C in Tannersville, is an excellent setting for chamber music. A miniature Gothic cathedral incongruously located at a quiet crossroads outside of the village, its vaulted wooden gives performers perfect acoustics and audience members close-up views of the musicians.   Read more

Catskills Fourth of July: Fireworks

Above: Fireworks at the Monticello Raceway on July 4, 2014. Photo by John of Catskills Photography, shared in the Watershed Post Flickr pool.  

Independence Day in the Catskills means barbecue, waters warm enough to swim in, and lots of time spent outside. But we know that you're really here for the fireworks. Here's our five-county lowdown on where to see fireworks in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties over the 2015 Fourth of July weekend.

DELAWARE COUNTY  Read more

10 Catskill mountain waterfalls worth visiting

Above: Old Mill Falls in Platte Clove (number 1 on the list below). Photo by Joshua Trupin.

Steep slopes and restless streams make the Catskill Mountains rich waterfall territory. Here are 10 falls worth visiting, winnowed down from the dozens and dozens to be found in the region. Some are a cool reward at the end of a rugged hike, while others plunge just a few yards from the road.

While most waterfalls in the Catskills are located in the high escarpment in the east part of Greene County, there are cascades, plunges and cataracts in each of the counties that make up the region -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster. All five counties are represented on this list, so there's a waterfall here close to you.   Read more

Mountain Top Arboretum project holds out hope for embattled ash trees

Above: The sign near the entrance of the Woodland Walk at the Mountain Top Arboretum informs visitors of the devastation caused by the emerald ash borer beetle. Photos by Laney Salisbury.

Many trees along Route 23C leading up to the Mountain Top Arboretum in the Greene County village of Tannersville don't stand a chance. They are ash trees, victims of the ongoing Catskills invasion by the emerald ash borer, and they loom over the road like skeletons pinned against the sky.

But turn right onto Maude Adams Road into the natural sanctuary on the mountaintop and here, in an experimental strategy, volunteers are giving a large stand of ash trees a chance to defend itself. 

Begun last year, the research project plans to treat about 160 ash trees on several acres with a systemic insecticide that protects ash trees against the non-native emerald ash borer, which researchers say is the most destructive forest insect to invade the U.S.

The insecticide is emamectin benzoate, which many U.S. communities are using but on a small landscape scale, such as one tree at a private home or five trees along a street.  Read more

State legislators approve Delaware County's bed tax

Above: The Roxbury Motel, one of Delaware County's largest hotels, will be affected by the proposed new two percent bed tax. Photo via the Roxbury. 

A bill that will establish a two percent occupancy tax on room and hotel rentals in Delaware County finally passed both houses of New York's state legislature on Wednesday, June 24, in the last days of a legislative session that just never seems to end.

The bed tax bill "passed the assembly yesterday," said Jeff Bishop, a spokesman for Senator James Seward, who sponsored the legislation in the New York State Senate. "We were supposed to be done last week, but [the legislative session] is still going."

The bed tax bill was approved by the Senate last week, on Wednesday, June 17, and got the thumbs up from the New York State Assembly yesterday, Wednesday, June 24. State Assemblyman Clifford Crouch sponsored the bill in the assembly.  Read more

Franklin family's lamb found decapitated after compressor meeting

Members of a politically active Franklin farming family found one of their lambs decapitated outside their home on June 2, according to an article in the Daily Star.

In act reminiscent of the "horse head" scene in the movie "The Godfather," the lamb was reportedly found headless outside the home of Linda and Pete Bevilacqua.

The Bevilacquas say that they had returned home​ after a rancorous town meeting about a proposed gas pipeline compressor station slated to be built in the Delaware County town of Franklin, which the Bevilacquas oppose.

According to reporter Joe Mahoney, the Bevilacquas suspect that there is a political motivation for the slaying:  Read more

NY Post: "Catskills are the new Montauk"

Above: Catskills v. Hamptons T-shirts on The Graham & Co.'s Instagram page in 2013

The "Year of the Catskills" continues: On Tuesday, June 23, the New York Post's Page Six gossip column quotes an "NYC nightlife guru" as saying that, yes, the Catskills are the new Hamptons:  Read more

Legislature approves the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway

It's taken seven years, but Route 28 in Ulster and Delaware counties has finally received legislative approval to become the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway, according to a press release from New York State Senator James Seward.

Seward made the announcement on Tuesday, June 23, in what officials hoped was the last day of the legislative session, which has run close to a week over its normal schedule this year. 

The 65-mile byway runs along Route 28 from the Ulster County town of Olive to the Delaware County town of Andes, with short jogs along Route 212 and Route 42, through Shandaken, Middletown and Andes. It still must receive Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature to become law.

State approval means that the byway will be designated on maps and will be eligible for federal grant money. It also means that someday soon you'll see the byway's signature logo, which features a bobcat paw print (above), along the roadway from Olive to Andes.   Read more

New life for Kutsher's resort as a yoga retreat center

Above: The groundbreaking of the Z Living/Veria Nature Cure & Ayurvedic Wellness Center. From left to right: Mike McCormack, LMV Architecture, LLP; Chrissy Schiff, representative for Congressman Chris Gibson; Sullivan County Legislative Chairman Scott B. Samuelson; Town of Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber; Mark Kutsher; Walter Garigliano; Sullivan County Partnership President and CEO Marc Baez; Sullivan County Visitors Association President and CEO Roberta Byron-Lockwood; hotel magnate Sant Singh Chatwal; and Dr. Subhash Chandra, the media mogul behind the project. Photos courtesy of Z Living and the Veria Nature Cure & Ayurvedic Wellness Center.

A billionaire Indian media mogul's plans to build a wellness retreat center and resort on the bones of the defunct Borscht Belt Kutsher's Country Club in the Sullivan County village of Monticello became reality during a groundbreaking ceremony held on Sunday, June 21, according to media reports and a press release.  Read more

Suspicions swirl around resort plans for Andes

Above: The Andes General store, which has been closed for a year. Photo by Julia Reischel.

In 2006, when word spread that Aman Resorts was going to build a high-end retreat in the Delaware County town of Andes, the locals were thrilled.

A resort, especially one run by one of the world’s most elite brands, meant local jobs, more tourists and a stronger tax base for the Andes school, which is one of the state’s smallest.

But the years went by and no resort appeared. Instead, mysterious groups of investors began to buy up the most prominent buildings on Main Street in the picturesque hamlet. After the purchases, some of the buildings that once housed retail businesses stood empty for months at a time, accumulating broken windows and other damage.

Then Hogan’s, the hamlet’s general store, closed. The building, which was bought by one of the investment groups, has been shuttered for a year, leaving Andes residents with no place to buy gas, beer or a newspaper in the hamlet.   Read more

This weekend: Learn to maintain a trail

Above: Trail maintainers and volunteers work on a new section of the Shandaken Long Path, which opened in 2014. Photo courtesey of the NYNJTC.

It takes a lot of work to keep the 350 miles of hiking trails in the Catskill Park clear and hike-able. Do your bit by volunteering with the Catskill Conservation Corps this weekend to learn the basics of trail maintenance in the park.

The Conservation Corp is hosting a day-long workshop on Saturday at the trails around the North and South Lakes in the Greene County hamlet of Haines Falls. According to a press release, participants will:  Read more

Taste of Country security guard arrested for assault at concert

A security guard working at this year's immensely popular Taste of Country Music Festival at Hunter Mountain in the Greene County town of Hunter has been charged with assault for causing "serious facial injuries" to a 21-year-old man, police say.

Left: Bruce D. Belfer. Photo via the New York State Police. 

Fifty-two-year-old Bruce D. Belfer, a New Jersey resident, allegedly kicked the man in the face and struck him "with a blunt object," according to a press release from the New York State Police.

Belfer was charged with second-degree felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor. He was arraigned in the village of Tannersville Court and has been released on bail.

Son of woman who died in Rock Hill parade kills himself during encounter with police

The 43-year-old son of a woman who was killed during Rock Hill's St. Patrick's Day Parade in March shot himself during an encounter with police in Rock Hill on Wednesday, June 17, according to MudHudson News and the Times Herald-Record

Richard Bernstein, who originally grew up in the Sullivan County hamlet of Rock Hill, was the son of Susan McCormick, police say.

Left: Richard Bernstein in his Collier County mugshot. Via the Collier County Sheriff's Office

McCormick was a 56-year-old Rock Hill resident who died after she fell off a float in the parade and was run over on March 14.

Bernstein, a resident of Naples, Florida, spoke at his mother's funeral; the Times Herald-Record has photos of him at the ceremony. 

In May Bernstein was arrested in Collier County, Florida on criminal charges related to having a sexual relationship with a young teenage girl, according to the Naples Daily News. 

  Read more

Where to pick your own strawberries in the Catskills

Above: The first strawberries of the season at Dressel Farms on June 6. Photo via Facebook. 

It's strawberry season, that momentarily magical time of year when you can eat fat, juicy, locally-grown berries by the bucketfull at U-Pick farms around the Catskills.

We're smack in the middle of the picking season this week. For most farms, the season begins at the start of June and lasts about four weeks, sometimes stretching into the first week of July. The higher up into the mountains you go, the later the season runs.

We've done our homework, and the strawberries are ripe and ready at all the Catskills farms listed below. Happy picking!

GREENE COUNTY

Story Farms
4640 Route 32, Catskill
518.678.9716
Story Farms had its first U-Pick day on June 5, and is selling them for $2 per pound. 

SCHOHARIE COUNTY  Read more