Our guide to a Catskills Memorial Day Weekend

In Tannersville, Memorial Day means it's time once more for rubber ducks and crazy boats. Photo from the Great Northern Catskills website.

Everybody knows when summer really starts: this weekend. Monday will be marked by official Memorial Day observances in many towns, but all weekend long, there’s plenty of unofficial fun to be had, from music fests to boat races to town-wide yard sales. Here’s our five-county guide to the good times.


The five restored fire towers of the Catskill Park open for the season this weekend: Balsam Lake Mountain in Hardenburgh, Red Hill in Denning, Tremper Mountain in Shandaken, Overlook Mountain in Woodstock and Hunter Mountain in Hunter. Volunteer staffers will be at the towers every weekend from now through Columbus Day, to help fill you in on fire tower history, mountain know-how and more. Lace up your hiking boots and dust off the binoculars for those 100-mile views.  Read more

Letter to the Editor: Working in The Catskills, Chapter One

Dear Editor:

Working in the Catskills
chapter one

Life in the 19th century in the Catskill mountains
was mostly poor and primitive.
Beside farming and a small amount of trade,
there was very little industrial activity,
mostly Quarrying and Logging,
followed later by Trapping,Tanning,
Sawmills and construction.

Bluestone was beginning to be used for sidewalks.
but stone is very heavy
and wagon transport was difficult and expensive,
but Ulster County had the Hudson river,
and ships could deliver the bluestone to cities
in the eastern US and Cuba.

Soon the ships brought animal hides,
and, using the bark of hemlock trees,
tanning leather began, slowly at first,
and by 1840  Prattsville had
the largest tannery in the world!

  Read more

Catskill Mountains Film Festival rolls out the red carpet

Who needs an Oscar? The first place winners at the Catskill Mountains Film Festival take home a home-grown version of the iconic golden statuette: the "Catty," a cat hand-carved by a Catskills woodworker out of foraged mountain birch.

Left: A "Catty," the official award of the Catskill Mountains Film Festival. Contributed photo.  

One hundred films hand-picked films from New York State and beyond will screen at three local venues during the 2014 festival, which runs from Friday, May 2 through Sunday, May 4.

Adult, high school and college-aged filmmakers will vie to win the coveted Catty in each of six categories, from narrative and documentary features and shorts to music videos and animation.  Read more

Margaretville teens' paper peacock dress wins state arts competition

Above: Katlynn Shamro models Margaretville's winning dress design at the competition in Saratoga Springs on April 10, 2014. Photo by Michele Dietz.

A team of high school fashion designers from Margaretville Central School took top honors at the New York State Olympics of the Visual Arts last week with an elaborate Art Nouveau dress made entirely out of paper.  The dress, pictured above and below, featured a hand-painted design featuring peacocks and a Tiffany lamp motif. 

The Margaretville high school team beat 18 other teams from across New York State to win the fashion competition -- the most competitive category, according to Michele Dietz, the art teacher who coached them. Their challenge was to create a "big, bold, colorful pattern" that was inspired by a period in art history, and Margaretville's high school team chose Art Nouveau.  Read more

High art: Balloon sculptures made for the Guggenheim soar in Catskill

Above: Jason Hackenwerth's Aviary in its original form, as a one-night installation made for a gala at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. Photo by Kristopher McKay.

Latex balloons are generally considered to be more the stuff of children’s birthday parties than of high art, but one sculptor is out to put a pin in that idea. Jason Hackenwerth’s buoyant works, which are touching down in Catskill this weekend, look past the common balloon’s reputation to its transcendent power as an artistic medium.

Sinuous and colorful, Hackenwerth's sculptures can call to mind anything from exotic sea flora to alien life forms. Now, as part of Catskill’s Masters on Main Street program, three of his creations are touching down in locations throughout the town in a free exhibition called Aviary: Reimagined.

“The commonality of that material is so accessible and so easy to understand,” says Hackenwerth of his chosen medium. “Instead of people being frightened of the work, as a lot of people are for contemporary art, they seem to be joyous and happy.”  Read more

Your awesome photos

You Catskills folks are a talented bunch.

Sixty-five of our readers submitted photos to our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest before the deadline last night at April 3, 2014, and they're breathtaking. Check them out in the slideshow above or in our Facebook photo album here

Entrants, if you notice that your photo is missing, let me know:

The winner will be announced by Tuesday, May 27, 2014, when we launch this year's 2014 edition of the Catskills Outdoor Guide.

Thanks to our sponsor, the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room, for providing our grand prize of dinner for two to the winner of the contest.

This weekend: The Woodstock Writers Festival

Above: Panelists at last year's Woodstock Writers Festival. Photo by Dion Ogust.

Now in its fifth year, the Woodstock Writers Festival kicks off tonight with four days of workshops, story slams, and panels that put writers, readers and bibliophiles together to talk about what they love.

Many of the events are already sold out, but a few are still open, including the keynote address by actor Stephen Tobolowsky, an interview with Jennifer Clement, the author of Prayers for the Stolen, and panels and workshops on journalism, biography, memoir, fiction, and writing "when a nap is preferable."   Read more

Give us your best shot: The 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Above: “Two Boys and a Dog in East Meredith” by Cindy Dunne, the second-place winner of last year's Catskills Outdoor Guide photo contest.

Update: The contest is now closed. Winners will be announced on May 27, when the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide hits the streets. Thanks for all the great shots. To see all the entries this year, click here. -- Julia Reischel

As part of our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide, we're hosting a 2014 edition of our "Catskills Outdoor Experience" photo contest, once again sponsored by the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian.  Read more

Desperate times call for desperate measures

Our Catskills Food Guide editor Jennifer Strom photographed this turkey making like a chickadee at a bird feeder in Roxbury today. After the cold, hard winter we've had, wildlife is especially stressed. 

It's not just in the Catskills where animals are hungry. "Tough New York City birds" are having an equally rough time, according to the New York Daily News

“It has been crazy,” said Cathy Horvath, who volunteers with Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation. “We’re getting calls about swans coming up to people begging for food and ducks crashing into pavement thinking it was water.”

Folks upstate have noticed similar behavior, according to a story in the Ithaca Journal:  Read more

This weekend: Community news potluck in Livingston Manor

Above: An editorial meeting of the youth-run newspaper Manor Ink. Photo by Manor Ink.  

How can we make community news in the Catskills better? Come by the first-ever Community News Summit in Livingston Manor this Sunday and tell us in person over a potluck dinner. 

The staff of the Watershed Post will be onhand along with other startup news organizations like the youth-run Livingston Manor newspaper Manor Ink, which is hosting the summit at the Catskill Arts Society on Main Street. 

We'll be sharing ideas about emergency reporting, community engagement, ads vs. fundraising, and how to cover every town in an enormous rural area.

If you're a news junkie or just are just curious about how the news gets made, please attend! It's not community news without the community. 

Left: Watershed Post editor Lissa Harris and Jim Ottaway, Jr., the chairman of the journalism committee of the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation. Photo taken July 22, 2013 by the staff of Manor Ink

The summit is being organized by the Community Reporting Alliance, and features journalism start-ups and outlets that are funded by the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation. Both the CRA and the Ottaway Foundation have funded the Watershed Post, and we can't say enough great stuff about them. 

Community News Summit. Sunday, March 16, 2-5pm. Catskill Arts Society, 48 Main Street, Livingston Manor. Potluck dinner -- bring something to share. 845.701.6125 or email for into and directions. 

Here's the full press release about the summit below:   Read more

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