Region reacts to Ulster County Sheriff’s call to arms

Above: Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum on ABC News.

Paul Van Blarcum, the Sheriff of Ulster County, ignited a furor in the Catskills and in the national media on Thursday in when he posted a plea on Facebook asking licensed gun owners to carry their weapons with them at all times in case they encounter a mass shooting like the one that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California on Wednesday, Dec. 2. 

“I want to encourage citizens of Ulster County who are licensed to carry a firearm to PLEASE DO SO,” Van Blarcum wrote in a post that he also sent to local media outlets as a letter to the editor. “We are the thin blue line that is entrusted in keeping this country safe, and we must be prepared to act at any given moment.”  Read more

This weekend: Holiday shopping, festivals and St. Nick across the Catskills

Above: A decorated storefront in Narrowsburg in 2013. Photo by John of Catskills Photography, shared in the Watershed Post Flickr pool. 

Now that it's the first week of December, holiday events are legion across the Catskills. There are craft markets and festivals, concerts and carolers, and Santa is popping up in Roxbury, Bethel and Schoharie. Here's what to do this weekend. 


SUNY Delhi will host a Holiday Bazaar at the Farrell Center on Friday, Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.   Read more

Catskills patients and doctors left in lurch by Health Republic shutdown

Patients and doctors across the Catskills have been scrambling to deal with the abrupt closure of Health Republic, a troubled health insurance company that is closing for business today, Monday, Nov. 30.

The shuttered company is no longer paying its claims, leaving doctors unsure whether they will ever be paid for seeing Health Republic patients. Some doctors have turned patients away, or are bargaining directly with patients over their medical fees. 

In September, New York State regulators ordered Health Republic, the largest of many health insurance cooperatives to be established across the country as part of the Affordable Care Act, to close at the end of 2015.  Read more

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

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

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.


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

Administrative Coordinator Position Open

Department: MH Administration

Schedule: Per Diem

Shift: M-W-F Days (18 hour week) Weekends of Events (OT)

Union: No

Position Summary: The Margaretville Health Foundation Administrative Development Coordinator provides administrative, program, and mission support under the guidance of the Board of Directors. Including, but is not limited to, oversight of gift processing and donor acknowledgement, planning and coordination of major gift solicitations, oversight of donor stewardship and gift fulfillment, and assist in planning and coordination of special events.

Essential Job Qualifications: Education: Associates degree and/or 3 years working experience in related development, administrative, and management for a Not-for-Profit organization.

Other: Proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel. Highly organized, excellent grammar and communication skills.

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

How to spend Halloween in the Catskills

Above: One of the many creepy scenes at Night Terrors Haunted Farm in Schoharie. 

Halloween is this Saturday, Oct. 31, and the Catskills are celebrating with costume bashes, trick-or-treat events, zombies, witches and more. Here’s our five county guide to the best spooky events of the weekend.


In Andes, the annual Harvest Moon Ball is a Halloween tradition featuring a potluck, costume-contest and kid-friendly dance party that takes over the back room of the Andes Hotel every year. Saturday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m.

O’Neill’s Shire Pub in Delhi is hosting its Spook-Tacular Halloween Party on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. They’ll have DJ Pat hosting a costume contest with prizes for scariest, sexiest, best Couple, and funniest costumes.  Read more

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