Upcoming Events in Shandaken

Two crashes on same stretch of Route 28 in one week

Above: A three-mile stretch of Route 28 in the Ulster County town of Shandaken has been the scene of two crashes in one week. Image via Google Maps.

It's August, the very peak of the high summer season in the Catskills, and the roads are jammed with drivers. That means more crashes, especially on weekends, when the region's many visitors are in transit.

In one week, there have been two crashes on the same stretch of Route 28 in the Ulster County town of Shandaken, from the road's intersection with Route 212 south to the hamlet of Boiceville.

On Sunday, Aug. 2 at 4:17 p.m., first responders were called to a crash at the intersection of Upper Boiceville Road and Route 28, according to Rich Muellerleile, the chief of the Shandaken Ambulance Service, which was dispatched to the scene. 

A week later, another crash happened on the same stretch of road at almost the same time.

At 5:25 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, a three-car crash involving a rollover occurred near the intersection of Route 212 and Route 28. The Shandaken EMS, the Olive Fire Department and the Phoenicia Fire Department responded to the scene, and shut down Route 28 from Winne Road to Route 212 for about an hour and a half, according to Muellerleile.  Read more

This weekend: Whisper Opera at Mount Tremper Arts

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Above: A short video about the Whisper Opera from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Opera: It's big and loud, right? The mezzo belting her eleven o'clock aria, a stageful of chorus members singing at the tops of their lungs. That's a stereotype that's soundly undone in “Whisper Opera,” a performance so quiet and intimate that it's not much louder than a sigh.

The work is the brainchild of Pulitzer-winning composer David Lang, who cofounded legendary New York City-based new music collective Bang on a Can. Though it premiered in Chicago in 2013, it was developed right here in the Catskills, at artistic incubator Mount Tremper Arts. This weekend, “Whisper Opera” comes home to roost as the centerpiece of MTA's annual Summer Festival.

To make the piece feasible, Lang turned to director-designer Jim Findlay, who created an audience setup and a sound design that would make “Whisper Opera” both intimate and, well, just audible enough.  Read more

Marty Millman, longtime Phoenicia pharmacist, dies at 78

Above: Marty Millman in front of the Phoenicia Pharmacy in an undated family photo. Contributed by Georganna Millman.

It was sometime in the late 1980s when one of Martin Millman’s longtime customers called to say that he was on his way to the Phoenicia Pharmacy to pick up his EpiPen prescription.

The man had just gotten stung by a bee, and every second counted.

“The next thing we knew, a fire siren went off, and across the scanner the voice said that a driver on Route 214 just crashed his car into a telephone pole and was unresponsive,” said Georganna Millman.

“Marty looked at me and said, ‘Oh, my God. That’s so-and-so,’ and he took the EpiPen and got into his car and headed toward Hunter Mountain.”

“When he came onto the scene of the accident, the telephone pole had been knocked down. Marty walked over the wires and handed the EpiPen to the man’s wife. He was in anaphylactic shock, and immediately, he opened his eyes and started to breathe again.”

“That was my husband,” Georganna said.

Marty Millman, the compassionate, old-fashioned pharmacist who knew everyone by name, left his mark on the Ulster County hamlet of Phoenicia where he and his wife operated the pharmacy at 41 Main St. for 35 years.

Above: The Phoenicia Pharmacy. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

  Read more

Five kid-friendly Catskills hikes

Above: Kids hiking in the Catskills. Photo by Tim Luby.

While the Catskills have a reputation for rugged, steep terrain, the region also offers plenty of short, exciting jaunts with amazing views that kids can scale.

1. VROMAN’S NOSE. 1.5 miles round trip. A mostly gentle climb, with some steep sections, that leads to sweeping views of surrounding farmland. The large, flat summit is known as “The Dance Floor.” Park on Mill Valley Road in Middleburgh.

2. TROUT POND. 3 miles round trip. A pleasant walk on an old woods road up to a scenic lake. A side trail on the way overlooks a waterfall. Great fishing and camping opportunities. Park on Russell Brook Road near Roscoe.

3. FRICK POND. 2.2 miles round trip. A level hike through forests, swamps and meadows along the shoreline of Frick Pond. Can be muddy. Park on Beech Mountain Road, Livingston Manor.

4. TANBARK TRAIL. 2 miles round trip. A climb up to impressive views of Phoenicia, the Esopus Creek and surrounding high peaks. Trailhead at Parish Field, Phoenicia.  Read more

Blueberry and raspberry picking in the Catskills

Above: Picking blueberries at Blue Sky Farm & Winery in Stamford. Photo by Jane Margolies.

Strawberry season has come and gone, but not to worry if you didn’t get your fill of luscious, locally grown berries. Blueberry season is upon us, and, thanks to the late spring rains, growers at U-Pick farms around the Catskills are reporting bumper crops of berries that are bigger and plumper than usual. Raspberries are also ripe for the picking at some farms. So grab a pail and get out your pie and cobbler recipes—and stay tuned for more updates on U-Pick offerings throughout the summer and fall.


Blue Sky Farm & Winery
779 Charcoal Road, Stamford

Blue Sky Farm & Winery had its first U-Pick day July 18, and owner Russ Betz says he’ll have blueberries for the next three or four weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The berries are $3 per pound—and you can pick up a bottle of blueberry wine while you’re at it.  Read more

This Weekend: Our guide to the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice

Above: Sila, an Inuit throat singing duo, will perform at the festival on Aug. 1. Photo via the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice website. 

Over the past few summers, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice has traveled (musically, at least) all over the world. 2013’s fest focused on Italy and Germany with works by Verdi and Wagner, and last year’s covered the music of Spain. But this year the annual event, now in its sixth year, is bringing it all back home with a program devoted to American melodic traditions. And luckily, we’ve got a lot of ’em.  Read more

Phoenicia Voice Festival grows “five times bigger” for its sixth season

Above: Maria Todaro, center, at a choir rehearsal for the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which opens today. Photo by Paula Ann Mitchell.

It takes luck, miracles and a hero or two to make a music festival happen. That’s how Maria Todaro sees the sequence of events leading up to the annual Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which begins today, Wednesday, July 29.

In mid-July, the festival’s 28-piece orchestra suddenly lost its rehearsal space in New York City, and Todaro was frantic. She rallied the support of festival patron and fellow musician Mark Holland, who happened to call her about getting tickets.

“I said, ‘Can I ask you a favor? Can you go look at some rooms for me?’ He went to visit 20 churches in the city,” Todaro said. “He called me at midnight and said he found the Riverside Church. That was incredible. Every day, there’s a miracle like that.”

Todaro, the festival co-founder and executive director, is exhaling this week now that some of the last-minute problems of finding housing for 69 of the 132 guests artists and tapping the generosity of local restaurants and volunteers to feed them have been solved.

There have been other last-minute strokes of luck.  Read more

Pedal mettle: Mountain biking and road cycling in the Catskills

Above: A mountain biker races in Hurley in 2013. Photo by Tim Kleeger of Fats in the Cats.

The Catskill Mountains were made for road cycling and mountain biking, with miles of paved, lightly trafficked roads and rugged mountain trails. For those who love to shred shale, the region is a mountain biker’s paradise.

The FATS IN THE CATS BICYCLE CLUB ( has over 150 members and has been around since 1994, with rides for bikers of all abilities, including a weekly “newbie” rider group.  Read more

BBQ in the Catskills

Above: Brisket, pulled pork, chicken and ribs at Catskill Mtn. BBQ in Grand Gorge. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Barbecue fans will drive long distances for their fix of smoked pork belly and brisket. Here’s where to get barbecue in the Catskills. 

The Tannersville version of AMERICAN GLORY BBQ (6033 Main St., Tannersville. 518-822-1234. opened in August 2014, serving North Carolina-style pulled pork, brisket (chopped or sliced Texas style) and St. Louis-style ribs, all smoked over maple wood for hours.

Above: Ribs at American Glory BBQ in Tannersville. Photo courtesy of American Glory BBQ.   Read more

Steve Earle hosts Catskills songwriting camp

Above: Steve Earle at the 2014 season of Camp Copperhead at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian. Photo by Michael Bloom via the Camp Copperhead website.

Steve Earle fans are eagerly awaiting the second edition of Camp Copperhead, a four-day songwriting intensive led by the renaissance man and songwriter’s songwriter at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian next week.

Ever since his “Guitar Town” hit the top of the country charts in 1986, Earle’s been writing protest tunes and love songs, transcending genre and medium; along the way he’s become an actor and a novelist.

Camp Copperhead, according to a video interview Earle with American Songwriter magazine, will feature morning master classes with Earle followed by small group poetry and guitar workshops with guest artists.

“We’ll have an open mic every night, and we won’t rest until everybody’s played a song,” he says.   Read more

Shandaken Letters