A midsummer night's dinner

Abraham Lincoln (aka John Exter), Gerald Balcar, Ursula Burroughs (aka Patricia Brannen), and New York State Assemblyman Clifford Crouch. Photo by Lissa Harris.

Assemblyman Clifford Crouch (R-107) was the guest of honor Tuesday, at a dinner-theater banquet held at Summerfield's in Margaretville as a fundraiser for the Open Eye Theater. (Also on tap: Music both medieval and modern, as strolling violinists traded off with country and folk tunes from The Andes Gang.)

In a brief address to the assembled nobles, Assemblyman Crouch spoke of the merits of arts and literature in education, making note of a recent story in a London newspaper that described a school making unlikely strides through the use of classic literature.

"I'm a firm believer in the arts, and a firm believer in the fact that reading has to be essential," Crouch said. "We've got a great opportunity to make sure the arts are alive and well in our schools."  Read more

Got gripes? Send 'em to the Complaints Choir

You might have missed the last appearance of the Delaware County Complaints Choir on August 6 -- they had to hightail it to a church basement when the skies opened over the Arts & Soul of the Catskills festival

Luckily for you, the Complaints Choir is making an encore appearance on September 4 at the West Kortright Centre during the Tunes 'n Tomatoes 2011 Festival. If you have a whinge, a gripe, or a whine that you'd like to hear sung by a chorus of your friends and neighbors, submit it by tomorrow, August 26, to [email protected]. Here's the WKS's press release:   Read more

Woodstock remembers Avis Gebert, storyteller and “grandmother to the universe”

Avis Gebert insisted that she was not a natural storyteller. But “Grandma Avis,” as she was known to children throughout Woodstock, held generations of kids spellbound as she spun out her carefully crafted tales.

Gebert, who died on Wednesday at the age of 80, was one of Woodstock’s quiet legends. After a bout with ovarian cancer caused her to retire from a career as a teacher at Bennett Elementary School in 1986, Gebert found her calling as a storyteller. Masks, props, and binder after binder of carefully organized stories filled an entire “storytelling room” in her home, and children around the neighborhood spent years rehearsing and performing tales as her apprentices.  Read more

Thursday: All about pickles

Linda Norris, Treadwell's resident expert on museums and Ukraine, has been running the Pickle Project, her travelling roadshow about Ukrainian foodways, ever since she secured seed funding for it earlier this year. (We interviewed Linda about the Pickle Project back in January.)

Tomorrow, Linda will be talking about Ukraine, local food, and the joy of pickles at the West Kortright Centre as part of the WKC's "Who Knew?" lecture series. Attendees are invited to bring their favorite canned goods to pass and discuss.  Read more

This weekend: Young Jean Lee at Mount Tremper Arts

Members of Young Jean Lee's Theater Company in "UNTITLED FEMINIST MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY SHOW." Photo by Blaine Davis.

What do you expect from an edgy Brooklyn playwright who has gotten rave reviews for a play about black-white race relations, scathing reviews for her postmodern reworking of King Lear, and bemused appreciation for her one-women bizarro cabaret act about the fact that We're Gonna Die?

Come to the final weekend of the summer-long Mount Tremper Arts festival this Saturday to find out. Here's a hint: There will be lots of naked ladies involved.  Read more

Giant statues multiplying in the Rondout Valley

A mockup of what a Rondout Valley tourist map might look like, from the Valley of the Giants website.

Pop artist Maria Reidelbach -- the force of nature behind Kerhonkson's "Gnome Chomsky," the world's second-largest garden gnome -- has a vision for southern Ulster County. It involves a dozen 15-foot-tall concrete characters, looming over Route 209 and luring legions of tourists to the towns, farms and roadside attractions of the Rondout Valley.

Reidelbach lays out the case for creating the "Valley of the Giants" on the project's website:

Once several giants have been made, the Rondout Valley becomes the Valley of the Giants­—a beautiful, picturesque, enchanted land populated by charming, surprising, folkloric gigantic creatures.  Read more

Small world

No, that's not a miniature town in a train set. It's Delhi, seen through the lens of local photographer Vala Kjarval, who took this photo a few days ago.

Kjarval has an eye for finding a startling perspective on familiar objects and landscapes. You can see more of her work at

Andes Community Day: Sweet, sweet victory

Last Saturday, the little Delaware County town of Andes came alive with the rat-a-tat of marching drums and the plunk of banjo strings, as the annual Community Day parade wended its way down Route 28. And then the festivities really got underway. (It's not truly summer in Delaware County without an eating contest going on somewhere.)

Thanks to local photographers Joe Damone and Christopher Auger-Dominguez for documenting these feats of culinary athleticism.

On your mark, get set, splat: A brief moment of calm before the watermelon-eating contest begins. Photo by Joe Damone.  Read more

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