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This Weekend: Phoenicia Turkey Trot

Above: Bill Rudge, the Natural Resource Supervisor for Region 3 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, running in the Phoenicia Turkey Trot. Photo by Michele Garner Brown.

On Saturday, Nov. 29, hundreds of runners will line up in Phoenicia for the annual post-feast Phoenicia Turkey Trot to walk, run or waddle 2.4 miles through the hamlet to raise funs for building upkeep and improvements at the Shandaken Theatrical Society Playhouse.
 
Runners of all abilities are invited to participate, ideally in costume. There will be prizes for the best get-ups worn in the race. Kids are invited to race as well: anyone under five years old can enter the Tot Trot, held before the main race that morning. 
 
Phoenicia Turkey Trot. Saturday, Nov. 29, 10 a.m. Tot trot 9:30 a.m. $10 individuals; $20 per family. Registration at 8 a.m. at the  Parish Hall on Main Street Phoenicia. Pre-register at runreg.com or phoeniciaturkeytrot.com

This Weekend: Christopher Williams Open Studio

Above: "Wolf-in-Skins," a work-in-progress dance-opera by Christopher Williams and Gregory Spears. Photo by Andrew Jordan.

By the time audiences usually see a dance, it’s the final, perfected product—the polished result of months of work. But New York City-based choreographer Christopher Williams is giving viewers a chance to see what a movement piece looks like at the very beginning of its lifespan, in a free open studio on Sunday, Nov. 23 at Mount Tremper Arts. 

Left: Christopher Williams. Photo via his website. 

Williams has been commissioned to create a series of dances for "Dardanus," a Baroque opera by 18th-century French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. In those days, dance was an integral part of operatic structure; minuets and gavottes popped up in interludes between arias. This new production of the rarely-seen opera, directed by Michel Fau and in collaboration with the musical group Ensemble Pygmalion, is set to begin performances at the Opéra National de Bordeaux next April.

But Williams’s contribution has to start somewhere, and he’s making his first moves during a weeklong residency in Mount Tremper. Armed with a recording of Ensemble Pygmalion’s arrangements for "Dardanus," he and six dancers have come up from the city to work out the beginnings of what will become the final pieces.

“What the audience will see are very rough attempts at dance material that in some way relates to the music,” Williams said. “I think it will help demystify the process of dance-making. By inviting people in at this stage, people can get a taste of what it’s like to be in the studio as a dancer, having to deal with the material that’s given to you by a choreographer.”

  Read more

This weekend: Shop local, shop the Catskills

Above: The Hudson Valley Hullabaloo features indie crafters and makers selling their wares in Kingston. One of the many vendors that will be there this weekend is Wishbone Letterpress, which is run by the Hullabaloo's founder and co-organizer Danielle Bliss and her husband Joe Venditti. They make snazzy cards like the one you see above. Photo via the Hullabaloo blog. 

Giving gifts to loved ones is great fun. Getting those gifts is great fun too, when you stay clear of the mass markets and head instead to the local merchants and makers. Supporting those folks makes our communities better all year long.

Here, then, is the first installment of our Catskills holiday season shopping guide to where and when you’ll find the good fresh local stuff among smiling faces. We'll be posting each week with events to check out around the region. Want even more things to do? Check out our ever-updating Catskills events calendar  Read more

The Phoenician, Ricciardella's newest restaurant, opens

The Phoenician on Nov. 16, 2014. Photo by Julia Reischel.

After 14 months of renovations, the Phoenician, Mike Ricciardella's fourth restaurant in the hamlet of Phoenicia, is open.

The restaurant is perched on the banks of the Esopus Creek, in a building that housed Al's Seafood Restaurant for over 70 years. After Ricciardella bought the structure in 2012, he tore half of it down and rebuilt it from scratch. 

"It looks so much bigger," Ricciardella said. "Nobody ever believes me, but from one end to the other, it's the same footprint."

The revamped restaurant's construction has faced criticism from some of its neighbors. But Ricciardella said that all of the Phoenician's permits are in order. The restaurant's septic system has been inspected and approved by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Ricciardella said.

"I've had them in there three or four times," he said. "I wanted them in there from the start, so that there would be no problem."  Read more

A Catskills rhapsody: "To Be Forever Wild"

David Becker released "To Be Forever Wild," a documentary film about the Catskills, in the summer of 2014. The project has been four years in the making—we interviewed Becker back in 2012 about his plans for the film, which was shot and edited collaboratively with the help of a large crew of volunteers. This fall, Jenna Scherer, our arts correspondent, got to watch the finished product. Here's her review. - Ed. 

The Catskill Mountains are hundreds of millions of years old, formed by eons of sedimentary accumulation, continental collision, glacial erosion and deforestation. But for every new generation that claps eyes on the region, it’s something brand new.

That sense of novelty and aw-shucks wonder is the engine that fuels "To Be Forever Wild," filmmaker David Becker’s new documentary about the Catskills and the way they make people feel.

Left: Director David Becker, photographed at Dibble's Quarry in the Catskill Mountains.

The film covers 12 days in the lives of Becker his crew, a group of young artists, filmmakers and musicians—mostly from New York City—as they head north to do the mountain thing. Along the way, they rub elbows with knowledgeable locals versed in everything from geology to fly-fishing—and, of course, Sullivan County homeowner and movie star Mark Ruffalo.

As a director, Becker goes out of his way to capture a sense of motion and life, taking the camera on cliff jumps off the edge of waterfalls, on zip-line rides through the tree canopy, and careening down scenic sunlit highways.

The in-between moments in this movie are about the crew finding creative inspiration in their surroundings: folky jam sessions around a campfire, sketches at Artist Rock in Greene County, and antique-camera photos of swimmin’ holes.

This can all feel a little precious at times, but fortunately, that’s not the meat and potatoes of the film. That would be Becker’s motley mix of interview subjects, who all get jazzed about the Catskills in different ways.

Among them are natural historian Michael Kudish, who leads the film crew into the woods as he cores a bog; Ellen Kalish of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, who rehabilitates injured owls and hawks; and Lama Karma, a monk from Woodstock’s Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery, who emigrated to the region from Tibet. The diversity of perspectives gives you an appreciation of just how many different ways there are to look at a place like this.

Becker's muse is 19th-century naturalist John Burroughs, the Catskills’ own famous essayist and conservationist. But "Forever Wild’s" spirit is closer to that of a group of little kids who appear early in the film, waxing rhapsodic about sticks.

  Read more

Catskill Watershed Corporation bristles at Eldridge over comments

Former congressional hopeful Sean Eldridge has drawn the ire of the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) with his comments about economic development in the New York City watershed.

Eldridge, a Democrat, lost the race for New York State's 19th Congressional District to Republican incumbent Chris Gibson on Nov. 4. 

Before the election, Eldridge gave an interview to the Watershed Post where he discussed the importance of lending money to small businesses in the Catskills.  Read more

Gibson leads by large margins; Eldridge concedes

Republican Congressman Chris Gibson kept his seat in New York's 19th Congressional District with large leads over Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge on Tuesday, Nov. 4. 

In a statement emailed to the press at 10:42 p.m. on election night, Eldridge conceded the race to Gibson, saying that he was "proud of the issues we focused on in this race."

Gibson had a hefty lead over Eldridge in early election results: at 10:30 p.m., with fewer than half of the precincts in the 19th District reporting, Gibson had 62 percent of the vote overall, while Eldridge had 35 percent.

In the Catskills counties that reported unofficial results before 11 p.m., Gibson won by even larger margins: 61 precent of the vote in Sullivan County, 74 percent in Greene County, and 79 percent in Schoharie County.

Gibson emailed a victory statement at 11:01 p.m., thanking voters and citing broad support for his campaign "across party lines." Gibson said that his first act will be to shepherd a Lyme Disease bill into law. 

Here are the statements from the two candidates in full:   Read more

Election 2014: Gibson and Eldridge talk Catskills issues

Above: Chris Gibson, the Republican incumbent (left) and Sean Eldridge, the Democratic challenger (right).

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, voters go to the polls to decide who will win the race for New York's 19th Congressional District: incumbent Republican Congressman Chris Gibson or Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge.

Gibson, who was first elected in 2010, once represented a territory that was solidly Republican. But after New York's congressional lines were redrawn in 2012, his district shifted to include some of the left-leaning Hudson Valley lowlands once represented by former Congressman Maurice Hinchey.

The new 19th District is now a swing district. Democrat Barack Obama won it in the 2012 presidential race, but Republican Gibson beat Democrat Julian Schreibman for its congressional seat that same year.  Read more

Halloween in the Catskills: Part 2

Above: A ghoulish performance of dancing skeletons, ghouls and pumpkins is slated for 6 p.m. at the Woodstock Playhouse in Woodstock on Friday, Oct. 31.

Halloween is a whole week of festivities this year. The fearsome fun began last weekend and continues through the big day itself on Friday, Oct. 31 and beyond.

Here's our guide to Catskills Halloween events for Oct. 30 - Nov. 2.

DELAWARE COUNTY

Left: A demon wolf is ready to scare visitors to a haunted house in Hancock. 

On Friday, Oct. 31, come out to Walton for the 3rd Annual Knight in the Castle Halloween Party and Dance at the Castle on the Delaware. It’s an atmospheric night of dancing to Blues Maneuver, and there’s a buffet.  Read more

Look familiar? Lucius releases Catskills music video

See video

The Catskills remain Brooklyn's primary source for American-Gothic-style atmospherics.

A new music video for "Hey Doreen" from the Brooklyn-based indie band Lucius features familiar sites along Route 28 in Delaware and Ulster counties, including the Phoenicia Diner, Margaretville Bowl, and Fleischmanns' Main Street. (It's not the Margaretville bowling alley's first time in a music video.) An alpaca, presumably a Catskills native, also makes a cameo. 

Keep an eye out for local faces, several of whom meet grisly ends at the hands of the murderous songtresses. Recognize somewhere or someone? Share it in the comments. 

Shandaken Letters