Arts

This weekend: Make 'Em Laugh

It's spring, sort of. It's freezing and there's still ice on the ground. The only thing you can do at the end of March, after six months of snow, is laugh.

The Open Eye Theater in Margaretville is hosting a comedy night this Saturday that doubles as a fundraiser for the theater's upcoming season. Catskills locals -- Gail Lennstrom, John Bernhardt, Marcy Thorn, John Exter, Jill Ribich and Erwin Karl -- will mount the stage and put on their best Borscht Belt routines.

Make 'Em Laugh Fundraiser. Saturday, March 28, 7:30 p.m. The Open Eye Theater, 960 Main St., Margaretville. 845-586-1660. theopeneyetheater.org.

Out of money, the Belleayre Music Festival goes on hiatus in 2015

The Belleayre Music Festival, which has been held at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in the Ulster County hamlet of Highmount for 23 summers, will not happen in 2015, said Mel Litoff, the festival's executive and artistic director. It will return after a one-year hiatus to celebrate its 25th season in 2016.

"We're not closing up shop. We just don’t have the funds to mount a season at the moment," Litoff said. "We just ran out. We need to go back to all our friends and if everybody gives us a little bit, we'll be fine." 

The decision not to hold a summer season was made at the last meeting of the festival's board, Litoff said. The board members examined the proceeds from the festival's Snowball fundraising event, held in January, and decided that they couldn't fund the festival's $700,000 budget this summer.

"We had a great Snowball, but we still weren’t able to get enough money in the bank," Litoff said.  Read more

This Weekend: The Woodstock Writers Festival

Above: Caricatures of some of the writers who will attend this year's Woodstock Writers Festival, by John Cuneo.

The sixth annual Woodstock Writers Festival looks to be the biggest and best yet.

What started five years ago as a small gathering for people who to love to read has grown into a great place to meet best-selling authors and readers who love their books. This year, the festival, which begins on Thursday, March 19 and runs through Sunday, March 22, will be a fun-packed four days of food, conversation and sharing a passion for the written word.

"The festival is not about the craft of writing or about making connections (to sell a book)," said Executive Director Martha Frankel, herself a well-known author. "It's about readers and writers sharing their love of reading and writing. And sharing an incredibly intimate weekend."

Frankel is expecting a couple hundred more attendees this year than last year, when 700 people came to take workshops, attend panels and fun events.  Read more

This weekend: Donna Lewis at Bearsville Theater

Above: Donna Lewis. Photo by Franco Vogt. 

Donna Lewis, the singer who brought us "I Love You Always Forever," a single that was ever-present on the radio in 1996, is coming to Bearsville.

Lewis has a new album, "Brand New Day," that features her trademark breathy voice, Neil Young and David Bowie covers, some new songs that showcase Lewis' classical training and jazz chops, and, yes, a new version of that single she'll be known by forever. 

Lewis will play the Bearsville Theater on Friday, March 13 as part of a New York tour celebrating the album's release. From the show's publicity materials:   Read more

The 2015 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Above: "Mt. Utsayantha," taken from the top of the Mt. Utsayantha Fire Tower in Stamford by Christopher Mooney, the third-place winner of last year's 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest.

The contest is closed! Check out all the entries on Facebook and Flickr. Winners will be announced when the 2015 Catskills Outdoor Guide publishes in late May 2015. -- Ed. 

For the new edition of the Catskills Outdoor Guide, coming out in May, we're holding a 2015 version of the Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest, once again sponsored by the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian.  Read more

Hilt Kelly, legendary Catskills fiddler and square dance caller, dies

Above: Hilt and Stella Kelly at the 2014 Fiddlers! Festival in Roxbury. Photograph by Jill Ribich of Catskill Images. 

Hilton Kelly, the legendary Catskills fiddler and square dance caller, died on Tuesday, March 3 in Mountainside Residential Care Center in Margaretville, according to a friend of the Kelly family. He was 89 years old and is survived by Stella Kelly, his wife and bandmate of 66 years, as well as two children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Above: Hilt Kelly playing at the Slow Jam at the Pine Hill Community Center, May 10, 2013. Shot by VeccVideography on Vimeo.  Read more

Serial Brooklyn entrepreneurs open Glass Mountain Inn in Phoenicia

Above: Brooke Baxter Bailey and Jeff Bailey at the Woodstok Flea Market. Photo by Alexandra Marvar. 

Before leaving Williamsburg for the Catskills, Brooke Baxter Bailey and Jeff Bailey were involved in a series of Broooklyn-based experimental spaces: an alt-performance-art space called Glasslands (described by Gothamist magazine as “one of the city’s best down-and-dirty performance spaces”), a piano bar in Greenpoint and Whirlybird, which Brooklyn Magazine called “Williamsburg’s premiere Austin-style breakfast taco joint.”

In 2014, the couple closed their Brooklyn businesses and moved upstate full-time with a young daughter in tow. They bought a property in the Ulster County hamlet of Phoenicia, a five-minute walk up Route 214 from Main Street.   Read more

As it switches to digital, Coxsackie drive-in movie theater stars in its own film

Top: The sign for the Hi-Way Drive-In. Photo courtesy of “Enjoy Your Intermission.”

Some Catskills families run farms or general stores; for Roger and Sharon Babcock, the family business is the Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre on Route 9W in the Greene County town of Coxsackie.  

Like a family farm, a drive-in is an anachronistic business. There are only 400 or so drive-in theaters left in the United States, and some, like the Hi-Way, are still showing movies on 35 millimeter film, a format that movie studios are abandoning.

But nostalgia for artifacts of the 1950s (the Hi-Way opened in 1951) is strong, especially in the Catskills. The Babcocks told the Daily Freeman last year that their audience is loyal and growing, with regulars coming weekly to park their cars and watch a film outside under the stars.  Read more

This weekend: Art.Write.Now.Tour in Livingston Manor

Above: "Finn Does Not Like Bowling," by Elinor Hills, one of the works being exhibited in the Art.Write.Now.Tour 2014-15. Image used with permission from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Over 100 teenage artists from around the country will exhibit their work in Livingston Manor beginning this weekend when the national Art.Write.Now.Tour comes to the Catskill Art Society. The month-long show features the young winners of the the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, an annual national competition that has been running for 92 years. 

The Catskill Art Society is the last stop on a three-city tour for the exhibition, which features a stunning array of visual art and a selection of written works, including works by five national student poets. You can see all of the visual works in this photo collection on Flickr -- but they'll be better in person.   Read more

This Weekend: January February March guided audio walks

"All sounds are sharper in winter." That quote, attributed to famed 19th-century naturalist John Burroughs, is how arts writer Jennifer Kabat begins her hour-and-a-half-long guided audio walk through the winter landscape of the Catskills. 

It's part of a project that Kabat, along with her collaborators, New Zealand artist Kate Newby, curator Tim Saltarelli and writer Anna Moschovakis, are calling the "January February March."

The project is part podcast, part art installation and part snowy winter ramble through two Delaware County towns: Middletown, near the center of the Catskill Park, and Hobart, the home of a large oxycodone factory and the "Hobart Book Village."  Read more


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