Upcoming Events in Sidney

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Sidney author releases second book

Sidney, NY – Josh VanBrakle, Sidney resident and author of the award-winning novel The Wings of Dragons, releases his second book on Wednesday, October 21st. The Hearts of Dragons: Book Two of the Dragoon Saga continues the author’s young adult fantasy series about friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic.

The story picks up six months after the end of Wings, as the main characters struggle to overcome the losses each suffered during Wings’ climactic battle. Iren Saitosan has been crippled by his inability to use magic, while his friend Minawë is still reeling from seeing her mother murdered before her eyes.

“It’s a deeper, more personal story than I wrote for Wings,” VanBrakle explains. “I feel like I grew a lot as an author between Wings and Hearts, and with that growth I was able to give more nuance to who my characters are and what makes them tick.”  Read more

June 6th Mental Health Conference to Focus on Recovery, Services, Advocacy & the Arts

Delaware and Otsego County chapters of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, invite the public to a very special FREE community event that focuses on mental health. "Hope & Healing: Perspectives on Mental Illness - 2," will take place Saturday, June 6th, from 1pm - 4:30pm at the United Presbyterian Church of East Guilford at the corner of Chenango Co. Rte 35 & State Hwy 8 (near Sidney, NY). Speakers Jason Paden and Tammy Burrows will each share their inspiring story of mental health recovery, managing major and chronic mental illness.  Read more

New York Invasive Species Awareness Week

The mission of New York Invasive Species Awareness Week is to promote knowledge and understanding of invasive species to h elp stop their spread by engaging citizens in a wide range of activities across the state and encouraging them to take action. Please join in the fun and help out with the effort!  Activities of all kinds take place July 6th- July 12th. Check out and click on the logo for more information!

Thanksgiving in the Catskills

Photo by icoNYca, via Flickr. 

As the fourth Thursday in November rolls around, we gather in a spirit of gratitude for our mountain peaks and sparkling creeks, our deer and raptors and black bear, and for each other. Here are some places to feast among neighbors in the Catskills this Thanksgiving Day. Unless otherwise specified, all events are taking place on Thursday, Nov. 26.


The Interfaith Council is inviting everyone in the greater Margaretville community to its 5th annual free Thanksgiving dinner, taking place from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. at the Margaretville United Methodist Church. All are welcome and take-outs are available.  Read more

Delaware County passes bed tax

Above: Maureen Wacha of Walton, a motel owner, spoke against the Delaware County bed tax at a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Those who pay for overnight stays at hotels, motels and other lodging establishments in Delaware County will soon pay two percent more.

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors, at a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 24, approved a hotel and motel occupancy tax that will also apply to bed-and-breakfast establishments and rentals of vacation homes.

Proponents of the bed tax law say that the tax will raise $192,000 per year to augment the county's tourism promotion efforts. Currently, the county spends $95,000 annually through its tourism promotion agency, the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

Under the provisions of the law, the tax’s proceeds are dedicated to tourism and will not go into the county's general fund.  Read more

This weekend: Hudson Valley Hullabaloo plus four other Catskills craft fairs

Above: The 2014 Hudson Valley Hullabaloo. Photo via the HV Hullabaloo's Facebook page

The holiday craft season is heating up. This weekend, 65 vendors will flock to the Hudson Valley Hullabaloo in Kingston, and more will appear at markets and bazaars in three other counties. Here's where to shop local for the holidays during the weekend of Nov. 21 and 22.


Fresh-baked pies, locally-raised meats, Catskills-made spirits and wines and much more will be for sale at the Greater Stamford Area Chamber of Commerce (GSACC) Holiday Pop-Up Farmers’ Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21 in Stamford. The market has become an annual tradition, and over a dozen vendors will be there to provide a shopping bonanza just before Thanksgiving.   Read more

Supervisors: Delaware County bed tax is back, budget is up

Above: Colchester Supervisor Art Merrill, left, and Davenport Supervisor Dennis Valente, both opponents of the proposed Delaware County bed tax, conferred during Wednesday's meeting of the board of Supervisors. Photo by Robert Cairns. 

A new version of a proposed Delaware County tax on hotel and motel occupancy was introduced at the Wednesday, Nov. 10 meeting of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors.

An earlier version of the local law to authorize the two percent tax on overnight stays at lodging establishments was withdrawn last month after supervisors agreed with critics that it unfairly placed the tax on establishments that are already subject to sales tax while allowing casual rentals of rooms and homes to go tax-free.

The new version of the law makes such casual rentals subject to the bed tax by removing language that specified that only establishments that provide maid service or other amenities are taxable.

The change is designed to make the law applicable to rooms booked through services such as AirBnB or advertised on classified ad sites like Craigslist.  Read more

This weekend: Where to buy Catskills-made gifts

Above: "Stuyvesant Square Park," a photograph by Tom Sardo, one of many artists featured in Salon 2015 and Handmade Holidays, an arts and crafts sale run by the Greene County Council on the Arts, opening this weekend.

Makers, crafters and artisans across the region are gathering at holiday bazaars throughout the Catskills, showcasing locally-made crafts, fine arts and food products that all make great gifts. Here's where to shop local for the holidays during the weekend of Nov. 14 and 15.


Thousands without power in Delaware County, hundreds without power in Shandaken

Above: A NYSEG power outage map at 4:45 p.m. on Nov. 10. 

Update, Wednesday, Nov. 11: Power was on again in the Delaware County town of Bovina by 9 p.m. on Tuesday night. Power had been restored to all but two Delaware County NYSEG customers as of 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Nov. 11, according to NYSEG's updated outage map. 

On Wednesday, scattered power outages were affecting other Catskills counties as well, with 585 NYSEG customers without power in the town of Shandaken and a smattering of Central Hudson customers without power in Greene County.

Original story, Tuesday, Nov. 10: 

The lights went out on Tuesday afternoon throughout Delaware County, according to outage information posted on New York State Electric and Gas's power outpage map.   Read more

New book describes the "color, charm and lunacy" of the Catskills

Above: The Flager in South Fallsburg in the 1950s Catskills. Image from 1950s Unlimited via Flickr.

To the wider world, the Catskills mean just one thing: The Borscht Belt, with its famous Jewish resorts that inspired the movie “Dirty Dancing.”

But Grossinger’s, Kutsher’s and the Concord only take up about two-and-a-half chapters of “The Catskills: Its History and How it Changed America,” a new book released by Knopf on Oct. 27.

That surprised even its author, veteran entertainment journalist and writer Stephen Silverman.

Left: Stephen Silverman. Photo via the Catskill Mountain Foundation.

Telling the story of the Catskills required five years of research and 450 pages. It’s the longest book Silverman had ever written.

“This is 150,000 words,” Silverman said. “You’re talking to somebody who is used to writing 200 words for People Magazine.”

By heft alone, it’s a coffee-table book—a big, glossy hardcover brick stuffed with four centuries of Catskills lore.

It's lavishly illustrated and intended for a mainstream audience that is once again rediscovering the region. (As the book shows, the Catskills have been discovered and re-discovered roughly every 50 years since the 17th century.) 

There’s the well-known history, like the story of how Jennie Grossinger created a world-famous Jewish resort out of her family’s Sullivan County boardinghouse. There are quick biographical sketches of the lives of must-mention 19th-century celebrities Jay Gould and John Burroughs. And there’s a snappy account of how Washington Irving wrote the legend of Rip Van Winkle.

But the best parts mine a rich vein of more obscure Catskills stories.

Promenading tourists find a gangster stabbed to death and strapped to a slot machine floating in Sullivan County’s Swan Lake in 1937.

Father Divine, the charismatic leader of the integrated Universal Peace Mission Movement, brings thousands of followers Ulster County in the 1930s.

Mark Carr, an enterprising farmer, invents the idea of commercial Christmas tree sales in America.

At Casa Susanna, a 1950s retreat in Jewett, a small colony of cross-dressers learn how to apply makeup and walk properly in a pair of pumps. 

“Illegal liquor. Religious cults. Gangsters. Left-wing children being raised on communist work songs," Silverman said. "You had restricted hotels that had signs that read, “No dogs and no Jews,” and then you had Jews. Murders took place. Religious salvation took place. There was the bluestone mining and leather tanning. It was a lively place.”

  Read more

Gary Rosa wins Delaware County Family Court Judge race

Above: Gary Rosa celebrates his election to the position of Delaware County Family Court Judge. Photo via the Vote for Gary Rosa Facebook page. 

Gary Rosa has won a heated race for Delaware County's new family court judge position over county attorney Porter Kirkwood 5,150 to 4,662, according to unofficial election night results published by the Delaware County Board of Elections on Nov. 3, 2015.  Read more

Catskills election night reporting 2015

The polls are closed across the Catskills, and we're following the returns as they come in using our Storify widget, below.

You can stalk your own results right along with us. Raw election results are being posted on the board of election websites for Delaware CountyGreene CountySchoharie CountySullivan County and Ulster County.  Read more

Quietly, Delaware Supervisors update county ethics policy

Above: Jim Eisel, the chairman of the Delaware County board of supervisors, at the Aug. 26 meeting of the board. Photo by Robert Cairns.

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors, without much fanfare, has updated the county's ethics policy, which has been the subject of much controversy this year.

The board, at a Wednesday Oct. 28 meeting, passed a resolution adopting “The 2016 Ethics and Disclosure Policy for Delaware County.” The document lists “standards of conduct” regarding gifts, confidential information and conflicts of interest.

All employees of the county will be required to sign a form stating that they have read the policy. 

All members of the board, as well as department heads and several other administrators, will be required to file disclosure forms each year that state private employment and business interests for both the signee and his or her spouse.  Read more