Get Your Soapbox On…

The raciest artistic event of the summer is scheduled for Sunday, August 23rd when the 15th Annual Artist’s Soap Box Derby careens inexorably down Kingston’s Broadway towards the Rondout Creek.

This eclectic event, a project of Donskoj & Company, the City of Kingston is offering over $2,000 in cash prizes for our first, second and third place finishes in the Adult, Youth and Family Group Divisions.

The Artist’s Soap Box Derby or Kinetic Sculpture Race starts at 1:00 PM in front of Donskoj & Company, 93 Broadway, Kingston N.Y. (corner of Spring and Broadway). If you wish to join the fun the rules are simple: You must have brakes and steering ability and your sculpture must not be dangerous to yourself or to spectators. There is a $25.00 entry fee for which you get an official Artists’ Soapbox Derby T-shirt.

Can’t build a soapbox, come on down to the Award Ceremony as part of the festivities where every spectator can become a participant. Wear the loudest shirt you own and enter the Loud Shirt Contest where you can win 50 big bucks.

For more information call 845-338-8473 or visit their WEBSITE

Jazz Legends Show In Force For Local Causes

If you haven’t yet heard, jazz legends Pat Metheny, Jack DeJohnette and Larry Grenadier are coming together to perform three nights at the Bearsville Theater right outside of Woodstock this weekend. All of the proceeds will be donated to several local causes that include Queens Galley and Family of Woodstock, Inc.

Tickets are still available. Click HERE to learn more or to get yours.

Below are the details from a recent press release:

BEARSVILLE, NY – Hudson Valley jazz fans will have three opportunities to attend an up-close and intimate performance by three renowned jazz legends; drummer/percussionist Jack DeJohnette, acoustic bassist Larry Grenadier and guitarist Pat Metheny. The trio is scheduled to perform on Friday, August 21st; Saturday, August 22nd and Sunday, August 23rd at the Bearsville Theater, Route 212, 291 Tinker Street, Bearsville NY. 12409. Proceeds will benefit Family of Woodstock, the Queens Galley and others.

DeJohnette is widely regarded as one of jazz music’s greatest drummers and is one of the most recorded drummers in music history – appearing on over 1,000 albums with most major figures in jazz history such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans and Miles Davis among many others. Grenadier is considered one of the most sought after bassists of his generation. He has performed and recorded with the likes of Pat Metheny, Brad Mehldau, John Scofield, Joe Henderson, Charles Lloyd, Joshua Redman, Brian Blade and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Metheny’s versatility is almost without peer on any instrument. Over the years, he has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich to Ornette Coleman to Herbie Hancock to Jim Hall to Milton Nascimento to David Bowie. With the release of his first album, Bright Size Life (1975), he reinvented the traditional “jazz guitar” sound for a new generation of players. Throughout his career, Pat Metheny has continued to re-define the genre by utilizing new technology and constantly working to evolve the improvisational and sonic potential of his instrument.

Tickets for these special performances can be purchased at the venue or online at .  Ticket prices are: $55, Golden Circle; $40, General Seating; and $25, standing room only.  The concert begins at 8:00pm with doors open at 7:00pm.  Concert goers are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for donation at the door.

A Stunning View

View of Kingston from the Ferncliff Tower
View of Kingston from the Ferncliff Tower

Last week a group of hikers were led on a short trip through Ferncliff Forest in nearby Rhinebeck by environmental educators from Forsyth Nature Center that culminated with a spectacular view of the Hudson River and Kingston from atop an observation tower.
The hike was part of a series of adult hikes that starts at the nature center every other week. Check out the program calendar on FNC’s website here for more information.
The observation tower at the preserve, which is owned by the Rotary Club, was recently rebuilt. Read more about the tower in this article.

Looking Back

Jenny Schwartz, of the county planning office, gave a terrific tour of midtown Kingston during the “Make a Difference Day” celebration on Saturday. She described how the design of the high school was inspired by the East Wing of the Louvre and that City Hall took its design from the city hall of Florence, Italy.

Schwartz walked down Henry Street, and explained how midtown grew after the uptown section and Rondout merged into one city over a century ago.

Schwartz said midtown was a vibrant place where small business owners and others lived — folks who prospered by Kingston’s growth as a key manufacturing and transportation hub.

The Friends of Historic Kingston has a great website for anyone looking for more information about the city’s history. Check it out here.

Making a Green Difference This Saturday

This just in from the organizers of Make a Difference Day:

The Everette Hodge Community Center and Franklin Street (from Broadway to Prospect) will be the site for the Fourth Annual Midtown Make A Difference Day on Saturday, June 13.

This healthy living and community awareness street festival is sponsored by the Ulster County Multi-Service Center at the City of Kingston Everette Hodge Center with the Rose Women’s Care Services, Ulster County Office For the Aging and Kingston CARES, Kingston Area Library and Kingston Boys & Girls Club as well as other local community-based agencies and businesses. There will be live music, a walk through the city from City Hall, exhibits, arts and crafts, a bike safety workshop, face painting, free food and more.

Read more…

History Docks at Kingston

The masts of the Nina and Pinta.
The masts of the Nina and Pinta.

If you get a chance, head down to see the replicas of the Nina and Pinta at the Kingston waterfront. The historic ships are docked at the Hudson River Maritime Museum and well worth the $7 tour fee. The ships are here until tomorrow, June 8. On Wednesday, though, the waterfront hosts a Henry Hudson Quad celebration with a fleet of historic boats and live music. The event kicks off at 5 p.m. at the museum. Call (845) 338-0071 for more info.

Kingston Celebrates Quadricentennial June 10

In celebration of 400 years of Hudson River History, the Hudson River Maritime Museum is presenting a special event on June 10 at 5 p.m. at the museum, which is located at 50 Rondout Landing on the waterfront. The event features heritage ships the Half Moon, Clearwater and the Onrust. Other historic boats will be on hand such as the fireboat John J. Harvey, the tug Gov. Cleveland, the Launch 5 and the Riverkeeper. Mayor James Sottile will conduct a “ships welcome” and there will be music by the Kingston High School Jazz Ensemble as well as the Sea Shanty Singers. At 8 p.m., Jay Ungar and Molly Mason will perform with special guests Nanne Kalma and Ankie van der Meer as well as the Barefoot Boys. The music and dance will be broadcast live on WAMC radio. For more information, call (845) 338-0071.

Become a Park Steward

As you may know, the Forsyth Nature Center has a generous volunteer corps called the “Friends of FNC,” which conducts fundraising and other activities at the center. It’s a great partnership between the park and the community, what I would call a “conduit of good will.”

Across town, there’s a park that was once praised for its design and vista. It was celebrated by Kingstonians nearly a century ago. It’s called Cornell Park, located on Wurts Street and it remains a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

If you live near this treasure, and would like to help restore and beautify it, perhaps we can form a “Friends of Cornell Park” group. I’d like to organize an initial meeting this summer and ask for several residents to step forward and form this group. They would work with city officials and other organizations to plan clean-up days as well as brainstorm ways to spruce up the park (planting flowers, for examples).

Interested? Send me a note:

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Ready, Set, Swap!

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County Master Gardener Program set Saturday, June 6 for its “Great Plant Swap & Sale.” The event takes place at the Pavilion near Forsyth Nature Center, which is located off of Lucas Avenue in Kingston.

Participants drop of their plants from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., and pick up vouchers for the plant swap from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Call 845.340.3478 for more information.

GW Sets Gardening Day

The GW School.
The GW School.

As you can sign from the sign in the photo here, George Washington Elementary School is holding a Community Garden Workday on May 1 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

It’s not suprising that the school is taking such an initiative. Under the leadership of principal Valerie Hannum, the school continues to delight and surprise.

To read more about this Kingston City school, check out its website and mission statement here, which describes how the school is incorporating a Montessori teaching approach.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Call for Entries!

The Kingston Natural Foods Buying Club is now showcasing work of local artists in its store front at 33 Broadway in the Rondout. Check out the details in this story. The work is on exhibit through the beginning of June.

The buying club is also inviting local artists to submit work for an upcoming exhibit in its space. The theme of the exhibit is “Nourishment” and all work must be two dimensional and no more than 36 inches high. The exhibition will open June 6 and run through August 15. Please submit your digital images with media and size information to curator Megan Ingalls at by May 15 or call 845-383-1150 for more information.

Reminder: Groundbreaking at City Hall

Just a quick reminder of the Victory Garden groundbreaking at City Hall this Wednesday at 9 a.m. If you’re free, stop by to see the installation of a “Three Sisters” garden. Meanwhile, the seeds that are being grown at the Kingston Land Trust are growing fast. For more on this, see the story here.