The Calico Indian Dance Showdown brings back the Catskills Anti-Rent Wars

Above: A Calico Indians mask designed by Angelo Vizcarrondo for the Calico Indian Dance Showdown. Photo via Todd Whitley.

During the 19th-century Anti-Rent Wars, poor tenant farmers rebelled against their rich patrician landlords across the Catskills, relying a mix of politics, armed uprisings and subterfuge to dismantle the semi-feudal system that remained in the region. 

In the 1830s and 1840s, rebel farmers disguised themselves in calico dresses and faux-"Indian" masks and roamed the countryside, organizing rebellion. 

Left: Awake! Arouse! Dance! An 1839 poster supporting the Anti-Rent movement in Nassau, New York. From Wikimedia Commons.

The story is like something out of the musicals “Oklahoma” or “West Side Story.” Just replace farmers versus cowboys or Sharks versus Jets with “Calico Indians” versus wealthy aristocratic “patroons.”

This summer, a coalition of Greene County arts organizations is doing just that. 

“As soon as the director of the Zadock Pratt Museum said, ‘There’s this story about poor farmers with their backs to the wall dressing up in calico and sheepskin masks,’ I was in,” said Fawn Potash, the director of Masters on Main Street at the Greene County Council of the Arts. “It’s just too crazy. We had to do something with it.”

Thus was born the Calico Indian Dance Showdown, which may sound like an odd indie band name but is actually a festive historical reenactment coming to three Catskills towns this summer thanks to Mainly Greene, a coalition of Greene County arts organizations that includes the Catskill Mountain Foundation, the Greene County Council on the Arts, the Prattsville Art Center and Zadock Pratt Museum.

  Read more

DEC restricts access to Kaaterskill Falls for summer 2015

Above: The view from the top of Kaaterskill Falls, shot by Laurie Spring-Heckler in the summer of 2013. Access to both the top and the bottom of the waterfall will be restricted this summer.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will restrict public access to Kaaterskill Falls, the most famous waterfall in the Catskills, on Monday, July 6, and will keep it restricted throughout the summer of 2015, according to a press release issued on Wednesday, July 1.

The trail to the base of the waterfall from Route 23A will remain open, but the public will no longer be able to climb, wade in or access the falls itself. 

Access to the falls, which is located in the Greene County hamlet of Haines Falls, will be restricted while the DEC makes $450,000 of "upgrades" in an effort to prevent what has become a regular summer occurrence: people falling to their deaths.  Read more

Chamber music kicks off summer of concerts in Tannersville

Above: The Helena Baillie String Trio performs Bach's Goldberg Variations at All Souls Church in August 2014. Photo via the 23Arts Initiative.

The 23Arts Initiative, a Greene County arts organization that launched last year, is bringing rockstar chamber music to Tannersville in a series of free summer concerts in the imposing and intimate All Souls Church. 

The series, which features artists from London and Denmark, begins this weekend on Sunday, July 5 with a performance of Franz Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” led by the Initiative’s summer artist-in-residence, pianist Tanya Gabrielian. Gabrielian’s piano will be joined by the violin, viola, cello and double bass played by Areta Zhulla, Mark Holloway, Paul Wiancko and Tony Flynt.

All Souls Church, perched at the intersection of County Roads 25 and 23C in Tannersville, is an excellent setting for chamber music. A miniature Gothic cathedral incongruously located at a quiet crossroads outside of the village, its vaulted wooden gives performers perfect acoustics and audience members close-up views of the musicians.   Read more

Catskills Fourth of July: Fireworks

Above: Fireworks at the Monticello Raceway on July 4, 2014. Photo by John of Catskills Photography, shared in the Watershed Post Flickr pool.  

Independence Day in the Catskills means barbecue, waters warm enough to swim in, and lots of time spent outside. But we know that you're really here for the fireworks. Here's our five-county lowdown on where to see fireworks in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties over the 2015 Fourth of July weekend.


10 Catskill mountain waterfalls worth visiting

Above: Old Mill Falls in Platte Clove (number 1 on the list below). Photo by Joshua Trupin.

Steep slopes and restless streams make the Catskill Mountains rich waterfall territory. Here are 10 falls worth visiting, winnowed down from the dozens and dozens to be found in the region. Some are a cool reward at the end of a rugged hike, while others plunge just a few yards from the road.

While most waterfalls in the Catskills are located in the high escarpment in the east part of Greene County, there are cascades, plunges and cataracts in each of the counties that make up the region -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster. All five counties are represented on this list, so there's a waterfall here close to you.   Read more

Brittany Elliott to Perform at Foundation Event on July 11th

We are pleased to announce that entertainment for this year’s

Margaretville Health Foundation Event will be performed by Brittany Elliot.

Brittany is a resident of New Kingston and is seventh generation from

her family homestead, Crystal Brook Farms, settled in 1817 by Thomas Elliot.

From an extended size musical family,

Brittany has got something no other family member has:  Love for composing music.

Graduated from Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY in 2011,

she majored with a B.A. Degree in Music Performance.

Brittany will be performing on keyboards.

Shotgun Start

Mountain Top Arboretum project holds out hope for embattled ash trees

Above: The sign near the entrance of the Woodland Walk at the Mountain Top Arboretum informs visitors of the devastation caused by the emerald ash borer beetle. Photos by Laney Salisbury.

Many trees along Route 23C leading up to the Mountain Top Arboretum in the Greene County village of Tannersville don't stand a chance. They are ash trees, victims of the ongoing Catskills invasion by the emerald ash borer, and they loom over the road like skeletons pinned against the sky.

But turn right onto Maude Adams Road into the natural sanctuary on the mountaintop and here, in an experimental strategy, volunteers are giving a large stand of ash trees a chance to defend itself. 

Begun last year, the research project plans to treat about 160 ash trees on several acres with a systemic insecticide that protects ash trees against the non-native emerald ash borer, which researchers say is the most destructive forest insect to invade the U.S.

The insecticide is emamectin benzoate, which many U.S. communities are using but on a small landscape scale, such as one tree at a private home or five trees along a street.  Read more

This weekend: Learn to maintain a trail

Above: Trail maintainers and volunteers work on a new section of the Shandaken Long Path, which opened in 2014. Photo courtesey of the NYNJTC.

It takes a lot of work to keep the 350 miles of hiking trails in the Catskill Park clear and hike-able. Do your bit by volunteering with the Catskill Conservation Corps this weekend to learn the basics of trail maintenance in the park.

The Conservation Corp is hosting a day-long workshop on Saturday at the trails around the North and South Lakes in the Greene County hamlet of Haines Falls. According to a press release, participants will:  Read more

Taste of Country security guard arrested for assault at concert

A security guard working at this year's immensely popular Taste of Country Music Festival at Hunter Mountain in the Greene County town of Hunter has been charged with assault for causing "serious facial injuries" to a 21-year-old man, police say.

Left: Bruce D. Belfer. Photo via the New York State Police. 

Fifty-two-year-old Bruce D. Belfer, a New Jersey resident, allegedly kicked the man in the face and struck him "with a blunt object," according to a press release from the New York State Police.

Belfer was charged with second-degree felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor. He was arraigned in the village of Tannersville Court and has been released on bail.

Syndicate content