This weekend: Peevishness in four-part harmony

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Ever heard scores of people bellowing their deepest-held complaints out in harmony? Ever wonder what grudges and dislikes lurk in the subconsciouses of your neighbors? All will be revealed this Saturday in Delhi, when the Complaints Choir of the Art & Soul of the Catskills Festival belts local resentments out in song at 3:30pm in Courthouse Square. Here's how the festival's website explains the Complaints Choir:  Read more

This weekend: The New Kingston Film Festival

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The trailer for "Windfall," the feature film being screened at this weekend's New Kingston Film Festival.

New Kingston doesn't have too many claims to fame. There's the inexplicable lone red British telephone booth sitting in the middle of a cornfield just outside town. There's the unusually cozy post office that hosts a book exchange and keeps a box of toys ready for any kid who happens to come by. And there's the free New Kingston Film Festival, which has drawn cinemaphiles onto the secluded valley since 2008 with its carefully curated (and highly competitive) line-up of films from around the world.

This weekend, the New Kingston Film Festival rises again after a year-long hiatus. (Last year, its organizers took the year off to have a baby.) There are plans for a giant blow-up screen and drive-in amenities, including movie soundtracks that are piped over FM radio, so you can watch out under the stars from the comfort of your car. Andes BBQ stalwart the Cha Cha Hut is catering (and concocting special popcorn toppings for the occasion), there will be live music by Serena Jost and Robin Aigner, and many of the filmmakers themselves will be onhand during the festival and at a public filmmakers’ brunch the next day.

We talked with Seema Shah-Nelson, the New Kingston-ite who runs the festival with her husband Clark, about what it’s like to plan a film festival in the middle of nowhere.

Seema Shah-Nelson with son Rishi at the 2008 New Kingston Film Festival: Photo by Bekah HavensSeema Shah-Nelson with son Rishi at the 2008 New Kingston Film Festival: Photo by Bekah HavensQ: What gave you the idea to start this film festival in the first place?

A: When we first moved up here, we saw that there were a of music festivals. We love to watch movies, but realized that we had to drive well over an hour to a movie theater, and even then we’d only get the real Hollywood blockbusters. So we decided to do a film festival ourselves.

Q: What can movie-goers expect from this year's festival?

A: The first two years we had a full day-long festival. We had 10 to 12 hours of film. This year we have more like four to five hours. We’ll have a block of short films for about an hour, and then a break, and then we have a three-minute short film about a robin family --

Q: Is that the movie about robins by Fred Margulies in Margaretville?   Read more

A flash mob hits Delhi

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Think flash mobs are only for city slickers? Think again. Close to 100 people, including a fireman and a waitress in uniform, blocked Main Street in Delhi yesterday to perform a dance routine to Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO. (There are at least three YouTube videos up as of this morning. The one above has the best view of the fireman. This one has the best music. This one's just sweet.)

The stunt was timed to coincide with the Friday night Fair on the Square, and was organized by Raegan Reed, the owner of The Cardio Club, a local dance studio. According to a press release posted on WBNG's website, Reed has been plotting this mob for months with the help of a secret Facebook group:  Read more

This Weekend: Catskill Forest Festival

Those trees all around you? Don't take them for granted. That's the idea behind the Catskill Forest Association's Catskill Forest Festival, a day-long celebration of all things woodsy happening this weekend in Margaretville. There will be food and beer, a logging competition, artists, and all kinds of maple products. Best part? Admission is free. To get a taste of last year's festival, check out the video made by Fred Margulies above.

Catskill Forest Festival, Saturday, July 30, 10am - 4pm. Park Pavilion, Margaretville.

This weekend: Byrdcliffe Guild launches new music series with Mike + Ruthy

The Byrdcliffe Guild is Woodstock is trying something new: a music series featuring musicians and bands that call the Hudson Valley and the Catskills their home away from tour. They're calling it the "World Beyond the Woods" tour. From the press release:

The World Beyond the Woods will feature musicians of all backgrounds and genres who travel the US and the world to perform - then come back to the Hudson Valley to live, rest and create.

On Friday, The Woodstock-based folk-music duo Mike + Ruthy, who come from a whole family of prodigious folk talent (Ruthy is Jay Ungar's daughter) will kick off the series by performing songs from Million to One, their latest album. (We videoed Ruthy performing at the Ashokan Center earlier this summer with one of her other bands, the Silver Hollers.)  Read more

In Sidney Center, a school is reborn

The new Sidney Center Community Center. Photo by Julia Reischel.

The last time the American flag flew from the top of the flagpole at Sidney Center Elementary School was in 2005, when the school was shuttered because of declining enrollment.

This past Saturday, a team of boy scouts from Unadilla's Boy Scout Troop #1 raised the stars and stripes up that flagpole again to celebrate the re-opening of the Delaware County school building as a brand-new community center.

For organizer Paul Hamilton, Saturday's flag-raising was a triumph.

"The building has been empty for six years," he said. "Today, the parking lot is full again. To have the building come back to life, it was very moving. So often the news up here is about death, closures, and dead-ends. Now, suddenly, it's about possibility, newness, and life."  Read more

Best-Kept Secrets of the Catskills: Reader photos

Above: "The Huckleberry Brook Dancing Bear," by David Barry, winner of our "Best-Kept Secret in the Catskills" photo contest.

A secret azure swimming hole. An abandoned dairy truck moldering in the weeds. A back road through jaw-dropping fall leaves. We didn't know any of these things existed until you sent us your photos of them in our "Best-kept secret in the Catskills" photo contest this week. Thanks to everyone who sent us photos! You can see all the entries below -- every one was too good not to print. We've also loaded them into Flickr, where you can see them and their locations on a map. (The map locations are quite approximate -- we wouldn't want to make these gems too easy to find. What's the fun in that?)

It was a hard time judging all these awesome photos on the criteria of creativity, wittiness, and beauty, but after hours of white-knuckle consideration, we made our choices. Drumroll, please ...

1st Place: "The Huckleberry Brook Dancing Bear," David Barry

David Barry snapped the whimsical and slightly disturbing photo you see above. He calls it "The Huckleberry Brook Dancing Bear," and at first glance, you'd be forgiven for worrying for that little girl's safety. (Or for wanting the Department of Environmental Conservation to hire her on the spot as the leader of its bear mitigation team.) Fear not, Barry tells us -- the bear is a taxidermied model picked up at the McIntosh Auction in Margaretville. "It's smarter than your average diaper eating bear," Barry emailed us.

As the winner, Barry is entitled to two tickets to an Ashokan Center dinner-dance this summer. But Barry tells us that he can't use the tickets, to they go to our second-place winner. Instead, Barry will receive $20 of gift certificates to Cha Cha Hut BBQ in Andes. (That's a fitting prize, since Cherie Davis of the Cha Cha Hut gave us the idea for this contest in the first place.)

2nd Place: Wooden mountain lion hidden in the woods, Jack McShane

Jack McShane of Andes sent us this photo of a wooden sculpture of a mountain lion that, he says, is hidden in the woods. Here's what he emailed to us:

"Being a disbeliever of Catskill Mountain mountain lion sightings, I am chagrined to send you this photo of yes, a mountain lion reposing here on private property (not mine) deep in the woods of our Catskill Mountains! He or she, as you can see is in need of care and repair and I am hoping one day to ask the owners if I might have him to do the needed care and repair. The photo was taken in the year 2009 so I am sure he is further melted into the landscape. Some of your viewers may be aware of him. Please wish me luck in saving this magnificent creature that once roamed our beloved Catskills."

McShane wins the two tickets to a dance at the Ashokan Center, thanks to Barry.Stone mountain lion, Jack McShane: "Being a disbeliever of Catskill Mountain mountain lion sightings, I am chagrined to send you this photo of yes, a mountain lion reposing here on private property (not mine) deep in the woods of our Catskill Mountains!"

3rd Place: Fall road in Saugerties, Roger Green

Roger Green of Roger C. Green Photography in Saugerties says that this spectacular view is part of his daily commute. He writes:

"What I like about this road is that it's a nice quiet ride. Lots of shade in the summer like today. And it cuts a couple of miles of the trip back and forth to work. The farm at the end is one of my favorite spots for a sunrise."

Green wins a copy of John Burroughs' In the Catskills, a seminal work of locally-grown nature writing, from the Fleischmanns-based Purple Mountain Press.

Runners-up:  Read more

This weekend: Rosendale Street Festival (and first-ever Hudson Valley Short Flix Fest)

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Video: Billy Bob Liggan takes a video tour of the Rosendale Street Festival, 2008.

Party down, Rosendale: The annual Street Festival is in town once again. This Saturday and Sunday, the little town's Main Street will be transformed into an open-air fiesta, with food, local vendors, performers, and of course, music. Over 50 bands, mostly from around the Hudson Valley, will be performing on five stages around town

If the heat gets too much for you, escape to the cool, dark oasis of the Rosendale Theater, which will be hosting the first annual Hudson Valley Short Flix Festival both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Short films by local filmmakers will play on continuous loop throughout the afternoon -- none over ten minutes in length, and ranging from a mini-documentary about Hudson Valley LGBTQ folks by Alix Dobkin to an animated short set to the old folk tune "Ride Ole Buck To Water."

This weekend: The Hobart Horseshoe Festival

There are some things that just go together. Ice and tea. Beans and cornbread. Hobart and horseshoes.

Back in the late 1700s, local lore tells, Hobart pioneer Foote More was the first in the nation to manufacture those square nails once used to keep the horses of America shod.

Over 200 years later, Hobart's still celebrating the humble horseshoe with an annual festival that features a horseshoe tournament, a duck race on the Delaware River, antique farm equipment, a petting zoo, and fair food galore. After dark on Saturday, the Stamford Fire Department will set off fireworks at the nearby Cyr Center in Stamford.

Hobart Horseshoe Festival, Saturday, July 23, 10am - 4pm. Hobart Community Center Park, Hobart, Delaware County. Fireworks after dark, Frank W. Cyr Center, 159 West Main Street, Stamford.

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