Upcoming Events in Middletown

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.

Catskill Center director to retire; replacement sought

Alan White, the executive director of the Arkville-based Catskills Center for Conservation and Development, is retiring, according to a press release issued by the CCCD on Wednesday, March 25.

Left: Alan White. Photo via the Catskill Center's website. 

The statement quotes Jim Infante, the chairman of the CCCD's board, saying that White will "devote the next chapter of his life to his beloved farm." White raises goats on a homestead in Halcott Center. 

White took the job almost exactly five years ago, in 2010. Previously, he was the director of the Nature Conservancy's Catskill Mountain program. 

The press release does not say when White will formally end his tenure at the CCCD. A candidate to replace White has not yet been chosen.   Read more

Main Street Boot Camp conference brings scores to Delaware County

Above: Attendees at the Main Street Boot Camp in Margaretville on Tuesday, March 24. Photo by Julia Reischel.

A two-day Main Street Boot Camp conference sponsored by the Arkville-based MARK Project nonprofit attracted 90 attendees each day, according to Peg Ellsworth, the MARK Project's executive director. 

The conference, which was held on Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24 at the Hanah Mountain Resort and Country Club in Margaretville, aimed to bring together business owners, county and municipal officials and state development coordinators to discuss economic development in the Catskills.  Read more

The best of the new Catskills restaurants

Above: Fresh-made donuts at Twin Peaks Coffee & Donuts. Photo by Julia Reischel.

New eateries serving fresh doughnuts, Vietnamese banh mi, baklava and cheesy grits have all opened in the mountains this past year or so. From the 2015 Catskills Food Guide, here are some of our favorites.

The doughnuts at Twin Peaks Coffee & Donuts (5950 Main St., Tannersville, 518-589-6262), which opened in late 2013, are made to order by the Doughnut Robot, a countertop machine that deploys circles of batter into bubbling hot oil while you wait. After frying, they’re dipped in flavored glazes like Key lime, pumpkin, apple cider, and caramel and sea salt. For a quarter, you can add a bacon glaze. For $4.50, you can add eggs, cheese and meat to make a true caloric heavyweight: a doughnut-based breakfast sandwich “slider.”

Above: Doughnut sliders at Twin Peaks Coffee & Doughnuts. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

Tara and Nathan Jamieson, the owners of Feather & Stone (38 West St., Walton, 607-510-4027, featherandstonerestaurant.com), which opened in September 2014, express their love of travel in their menu. One week, they’re celebrating the Midwest with fried cheese curds, and the next it’s the American southwest with Texas smoked brisket. They have a special affection for New York state dishes — the Rochester Garbage Plate is a mix of meats, chili, fries and salad — and the humble burger, seven versions of which appear on the menu.  Read more

Snow days weigh heavily on Catskills college students

Above: The SUNY New Paltz campus on March 13. Photo by Keady Sullivan.

After a brutal winter in the Catskills, college students are holding their breath, hoping for no more snow days.

College classes at SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Delhi, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Sullivan and SUNY Ulster have all experienced weather-related cancellations with more frequency than usual in 2015.

For SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Sullivan students, Monday classes have been hit particularly hard. Three consecutive Monday snow days on Jan. 26, Feb. 2, and Feb. 9 prevented classes from meeting and have significantly set back course curriculums.

SUNY Sullivan had the most official, university-declared cancellations of colleges in the Catskills region. Four whole days of classes were cancelled, and classes were either delayed or closed early on three additional days. In Ulster County, SUNY New Paltz cancelled classes six times and SUNY Ulster cancelled classes four times.

In Schoharie County, SUNY Cobleskill cancelled classes three times. In Delaware County, SUNY Delhi cancelled classes twice. And in Otsego County, SUNY Oneonta cancelled classed on one day and partially cancelled classes on another day.  Read more

Catskills sugarhouses open for Maple Weekend

Above: Maple syrup from the Catskill Mountain Sugar House in Grahamsville. Photo by Richard A. Smith

New York state produces almost a fifth of the nation’s maple syrup, and much of that comes from the Catskills. The mountains are home to many sugarhouses, from large operations with state-of-the-art evaporators that use reverse osmosis to little shacks that still use the old-fashioned boiling method.

Maple syrup is available all year long, but the tapping season lasts for just a few weeks in March, when frosty nights and sunny days get the sap moving.

The best way to watch a sugarhouse in action is to visit one. The sights, sounds and smells of sap boiling in the sugarhouse mean that sweetness, like springtime, is just around the corner. Shake off the late-winter blahs and come celebrate Maple Weekend -- actually two weekends of open houses -- in the sugar shacks of the Catskills. Listed below are events that are within the Watershed Post's coverage area; a statewide list of all 160 locations can be found at mapleweekend.com.  Read more

Election results: Villagers dump incumbents, vote for newcomers

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Above: Aaron Rabiner, a candidate for village trustee in the Sullivan County village of Bloomingburg, in a campaign interview. Rabiner has a two-vote lead on incumbent trustee Katherine Roemer in a tight race that won't be resolved until next week. 

It was a throw-out-the-bums kind of year in village elections across the Catskills, which were held yesterday, March 18. In the few village races in the region that were contested, most incumbents fared badly against upstarts and challengers.

Many of the races are nailbiters. Some results are preliminary due to razor-thin margins in races where affidavit and absentee ballots have yet to be counted. In a few races, a single vote separated the winners from the losers.  Read more

"Obsessed" vegan cheesemaker found calling after career in restoration

Cheezehound's Barneveld variety, named for the upstate New York town, is a sharp, aged, semi-soft nut cheese. Photos courtesy of Lori Robin.

Lori Robin didn’t set out to start a vegan cheese company. A gilder and stone carver by trade, she had planned to teach restoration workshops for antiques lovers in a studio in the Delaware County village of Fleischmanns.

“Take people out shopping, buy something from one of the antique shops, bring it back to the studio, restore it, and go home with a finished product. That was the plan,” Robin said. “But I was…” she paused, searching for a word.

“Derailed by cheese?” I offered.

“That’s exactly right!”

Now Robin’s space is a commercial kitchen, where she handcrafts an increasing variety of organic, cultured vegan nut cheese alternatives for sale in the Catskills, New York City, and — thanks to a new distributor — beyond.

Robin has no doubt that there’s a market for her cheese.  Read more

Village elections are mostly quiet, with a few hot races

Photo by Flickr user Vox Efx. 

Today, Wednesday, March 18, is Election Day for most New York villages. Village elections in many Catskills villages are sleepy, uncontested affairs, but a few are real contests with full slates of candidates from multiple parties.  Read more

Luck of the Irish: More St. Patrick's Day events

Above: Delhi's St. Patrick's Day parade. Photo via the parade's organizers. 

It’s a gray and drizzly St. Patrick’s Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. Festivities celebrating the Irish continue all this week in the Catskills. 

A few St. Pat’s events take place today: 

Gavin’s Irish Country Inn in East Durham in Greene County will be celebrating all day long on St. Patrick’s Day itself, Tuesday, March 17, with a Irish pub fare and a three-course dinner with their own homemade Irish bread, leading up to a fine evening shindig with the Brothers Flynn Band and the Farrell School of Irish Dancing from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Read more