How to spend Columbus Day weekend in the Catskills

Above: Sugar maples. Photo by DeirdreLovesTrees, submitted to the Watershed Post Flickr pool.

This is it: The peak of fall. Columbus Day Weekend is the biggest weekend of the year in the Catskills, the time when the leaves peak in glorious colors and the fullness of harvest sets in. Come out and paint a pumpkin, crunch a crisp apple and savor the last live outdoor music of 2015. Here’s our guide to what’s up where from Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12. 


It’ll be a farm-fresh feast at Sunday’s Octoberfest Pig Roast at Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow. If you’ve never tasted an Ossabaw Island heritage breed pig, you have no idea what roast pork can taste like; they’ll be roasting a whole one and serving it up with authentic German-style sides like spaetzli and sweet and sour red cabbage. Plus, you can meet a newborn alpaca. Sunday, October 11, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. 


Phoenicia Turkey Trot

November 28, 2015 - 10:00am

Phoenicia to Host 5th annual Turkey Trot to benefit the Rotary Club of Phoenicia

Phoenicia, New York is hosting the Fifth Annual Phoenicia Turkey Trot, Saturday, November 28th, at 10:00 a.m. The 2.4 mile run/walk will benefit the Rotary Club of Phoenicia. The Phoenicia Rotary provides community support in many forms including combatting hunger, education scholarships, job training and emergency and disaster assistance.

The race will wind through scenic Phoenicia. A free Tot Trot for kids five and under will precede the main race at 9:30 a.m. Last year’s event saw over 300  runners/wobblers.

The run is open to the entire community, elite and novice runners alike. Kick off this family fun event benefiting this worthy cause, and while you are at it, work off your Thanksgiving feast.  Read more

845 688 7064

Harvest Moon Ball honoree Chairperson of Foundation

The Auxiliary of Margaretville Hospital and Mountainside Residential Care Center will again present the Harvest Moon Ball. An annual tradition which honors the Keene Roadman Volunteer of the Year will take place at Hanah Resort and Country Club on Saturday, August 17th. Cocktail hour starts at 6pm and Dinner seating at 7pm. Musical entertainment by the Blues Manuever. For further information please contact Karen Kolar at 845-676-4844 or email at [email protected]. Proceeds will be used to upgrade the hospital’s Hematology Analyzer.

Soldiers remove deadly strainer from Esopus, warning sign installed

Above: New York Army National Guard soldiers clear a section of the Esopus Creek where a 14-year-old girl drowned last month. In the foreground is a swiftwater rescue boat that was lost in an attempt to recover the girl's body. Photos by Julia Reischel.

On Friday, Oct. 2, the Army National Guard removed a deadly pileup of logs from the Esopus Creek where 14-year-old Jordyn Engler drowned last month.

A warning sign has also been installed, apparently in the last 24 hours, by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) at the entrance to the fishing access point at the Shandaken cemetery where Jordyn Engler died on Sept. 5.

Soldiers operating an excavator and a bulldozer worked for hours Friday morning to remove the logs and debris, known as a strainer, that trapped Engler while she was on a tubing excursion with her father on Labor Day weekend.

Above: The strainer where Jordyn Engler drowned, photographed on Sept. 6, 2015. 

The strainer was a well-known hazard that had first formed in 2005. It has choked that portion of the Esopus Creek for a decade. By noon on Friday, it was gone.  Read more

Father of girl who drowned in Esopus Creek speaks out

Above: A cross at an access path to the Esopus Creek where 14-year-old Jordyn Engler died on Sept. 5. Photo by Julia Reischel.

For the first time since Sept. 5, when a family outing on the Esopus Creek turned tragic, Jeffrey Engler is speaking publicly about the accident that claimed his daughter's life.

Fourteen-year-old Jordyn Engler's death, which occurred at the peak of tourist season on Labor Day weekend, shocked communities around the Catskills. The Connecticut teenager drowned during a tubing excursion near a well-known river hazard in the Ulster County town of Shandaken that local tubing companies are known to avoid.

Police say that her death was an accident, and that the investigation into the circumstances surrounding it are closed.

Initially, Jeffrey Engler asked for privacy after his daughter’s death. But in a recent interview with the Watershed Post, Engler described his experience of the day in an attempt to correct what he called errors in police and media accounts of the incident.

Above: Jordyn Engler in an Instagram photo. 

For our Sept. 9 story about Jordyn Engler’s drowning, we relied on first responder and police accounts of what happened. Since the story’s publication, several witnesses, including Engler, have contacted us with new details, some of which conflict with the initial police account.

Captain Kevin Altieri of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated Jordyn Engler’s death, does not dispute the new details. The owners of F&S Adventures Tube Rental, the company that dropped the Englers off at the river, have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Special trip to dangerous site

Engler said that not only did F&S Adventures Tube Rental drop him and his daughter off at the notoriously dangerous tubing site near the Shandaken cemetery, but that the tubing company made a special trip to ferry them there. This is contrary to the initial report from police.

  Read more

Lark in the Park hosts dozens of guided Catskills excursions

Above: A child's-eye view of the Catskills, taken on Aug. 17, 2013 at Hunter Mountain by Andrea Byrne.

The annual Lark in the Park kicks off this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 3 and runs for a week through Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 12. This annual celebration originated in 2004 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Catskill Park, and is an opportunity to immerse yourself in all things Catskills.

The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, the Catskill Mountain Club and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference throw a 10-day party for the Catskills at the peak of the glorious autumn foliage season, a time that many feel is the best time of year: no heat, humidity or bugs.

Above: Portage at Colgate Lake in Greene County. Photo by Karl Anshanslin.   Read more

Minor flooding across the Catskills, with more rain coming

Above: Flooding on Wittenberg Road in Woodstock around noon on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Photo by Benjamin Fenton.

Over six inches of rain have fallen in the past day in the high peaks region of the Catskills, causing minor flooding in streams in Greene and Ulster counties on Wednesday, Sept. 30. 

Schools in the Greene County town of Catskill closed early today, and flooding closed roads in Saugerties and in other locations in Ulster County, including Wittenberg Road in the town of Woodstock near Shultis Farm Road (see above). The Esopus Creek in Mount Marion crested at 21 feet around 1 p.m., a foot below the level where it begins flooding homes, according to measurements from its stream gauge.

Above: High water in the Plattekill Creek in Saugerties. Video by Brian Hubert of the Daily Freeman. 

Minor flooding occurred in many locations throughout the Greene County town of Hunter, which got the most rainfall--about six inches--today, according to John Farrell, the town of Hunter's highway superintendent. 

Above: A map of inches of rain that fell in the Catskills in the past 24 hours, from the National Weather Service. The most rain--more than six inches--fell in Greene County. 

"We had a couple very localized flooding incidents due to debris in the streambeds all over the mountaintop," Farrell said. "A lot of the tributaries. We got a lot of rain up there."

Hunter's highway team managed to clear debris fast enough to avoid closing any roads in the town, Farrell said. The flooding peaked in the town around 11 a.m.

Rainfall in other locations around the region was less severe, and other locations in the Catskills that are normally prone to flooding have escaped problems so far.  Read more

Harvest Moon Ball October 17th

Phoenicia's KeyBank to reopen

Above: The newly-renovated KeyBank building in Phoenicia reopens on Monday, Sept. 28. (A few finishing touches, including a metal handrail on the entrance ramp, will be completed by then.) Photo courtesy of KeyBank. 

The KeyBank building in the Ulster County hamlet of Phoenicia, which was gutted by fire on Feb. 16, will reopen on Monday, Sept. 28, according to a media release from the bank.

The building, at 53 Main Street, has been redesigned and remodeled, according to the release:

"We are grateful for the community’s continued support, and we are thrilled to be able to unlock and open the doors once again," said Ruth Mahoney, president, Hudson Valley/Metro NY Market, KeyBank. "The interior of the building has been completely renovated, with new carpeting, paint and furniture, and the exterior has been improved with new windows and new landscaping. Our goal is to create a welcoming environment that is a positive reflection of the area."

The bank will be open at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning for regular business.

The 2016 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest

Above: This photo, of a duck in Parksville, was taken by Chris Graham and won second place in the 2015 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest.

It's harvest season, and in the Catskills, the veggies are gorgeous. So are the cows, barns and the farmers themselves. (Just ask Real Simple Magazine, which just ran a photo spread of six women farmers from the region.

That means it's time for our annual Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest, once again sponsored by the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian.   Read more

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