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.

This weekend: Permaculture festival at Camp Epworth in High Falls

Photo: Dave Jacke, author of the indispensable two-volume textbook Edible Forest Gardens and local hero of the permaculture movement, in action. Courtesy of the Northeast Permaculture Convergence.

This Saturday marks the high point of the year for local permaculture enthusiasts: The seventh annual Northeast Permaculture Convergence is taking over the grounds of Camp Epworth in High Falls for a day of workshops, demos, bartering and selling of tools and seeds, local organic food, music, art and celebration of all things permaculture.

"Permaculture" is a slippery word to define -- like "sustainable," another buzzword of the green-design movement, it means different things to different people. But the general consensus is that it entails designing ways to grow food that integrate with both natural ecological systems and human culture.

Keynote speaker Dave Jacke says it's bigger than agriculture:  Read more

It's down to the wire for our photo contest ...

Photo by Flickr user Paul Reynolds.

Midnight tonight is the deadline for our photo contest about the "best-kept secret" in the Catskills, and the submissions are coming in! We're discovering things that we had no idea existed up here. I'd say more, but I don't want to spill the beans until tomorrow.

There's still time to enter. Send a photo of your favorite obscure Catskills treasure to [email protected] Judging is tonight. The winner will get two free tickets to a dinner-dance at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge. (Click here for more details and fine print.)


Thunder in Big Indian

Children learn to drum at the Thunder in the Valley Pow-wow in Big Indian Park. Photo by Rusty Mae Moore.

On Saturday, Native American vendors, dancers, and drummers from across the region and as far away as Mexico gathered in Big Indian for the Thunder in the Valley Pow-Wow.

Twenty vendors and a crowd of children and adults gathered to listen to folk tales, try a hand at drumming, and swap stories about being Cree, Lakota, Micmac, Delaware, Seneca, and Aztec.

The pow-wow was organized by the Big Indian Native American Cultural Center. Mary Lou Stapleton, known as Spirit Dance, founded the center with her husband Frank 11 years ago. Stapleton said that anybody is welcome to join.

“You don't have to be Native American,” she said. “We are a friendly place where all nations are welcome."

Red Wing, a woman from Langhorne, Pennsylvania, was one of the non-Indians at Saturday's pow-wow. She said that her family joined the Native American Cultural Center years ago when they attended a car show at Big Indian and were invited to join a native "talking circle" taking place nearby.  Read more

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