Bakers can break out their recipes for the May 7 bake-off sponsored by Mama’s Boy Market Cafe, a chance to taste what may prove to be the region’s best desserts. Music lovers will hear Amy Helm’s band, Tommy Ramone’s duo Uncle Monk, kid-oriented musician Uncle Rock, and Phoenicia’s three world-class opera singers on May 21 at Onteora High School. Three dozen local artists will offer their works for auction at the Emerson Inn on May 28.
Meanwhile, volunteers — with work gloves and boots — are needed to help clear smoke-infused books and debris out of the library on Saturday, April 30, starting at 9 a.m.
Library board president Judith Singer says current plans call for a renovation of the building rather than a relocation. The fishing collection, sadly, is not salvageable, but many of its elements will be recreated, and donations of fishing books have already been offered to the temporary library, located across from the Phoenicia post office on Ave Maria Drive.
Contestants for the bake-off may register at the temporary library or at Mama’s Boy on Church Street, at a cost of $5, which will go directly to the library fund. On May 7, the day before Mother’s Day, all the entries will be brought to the cafe by noon. At 1p.m., judges will taste each delicacy and award prizes, which will include blue ribbons, a free yoga session donated by Ricarda O’Conner, and gift certificates. Chef Devin Mills of the Peekamoose Restaurant will be one of the judges, along with a child and someone picked by the library staff.
Kids are welcome to enter the contest. Entries may include pies, cakes, cookies, brownies, or any other baked good. Eight servings should be provided. After the judging, the remaining goodies will be sold to the public, with proceeds again going to the library. The winning entries, of course, will cost more. Rules and regulations are available at the temporary library and at Mama’s Boy.
Concert at Onteora
“The library is the heart of Phoenicia,” said Robert Burke Warren, a.k.a. Uncle Rock. “It’s our community center and meeting place. Everyone comes through it, whether their family has been here for generations, or they’re weekenders, whatever their age or politics. It’s very close to my and Holly’s hearts.”
Within days of the fire, Warren and his wife, library trustee and music writer Holly George-Warren, had begun asking musician friends and acquaintances to help them put on a benefit concert. “Amy Helm immediately said yes,” Warren reports. She’s bringing colleagues from Levon Helm’s Ramble Band, including Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, and Byron Isaacs. Former punk rocker Tommy Ramone and Claudia Tienan, country duo Uncle Monk, will also perform. Uncle Rock and his band will play hip children’s music that even adults love. Rounding out the bill will be opera singers and organizers of the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, Louis Otey, Kerry Henderson, and Maria Todaro.
The concert will take place Saturday, May 21, 3p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Harry Simon Auditorium at Onteora High School and will be accompanied by a silent auction. Roseanne Cash is donating books and CDs, former White Zombies bass player Sean Yseult has sent scarves she designed herself, and the Phoenicia Belle B-and-B is offering accommodations. Other items include autographed CDs and books, tickets to Mountain Jam donated by WDST, and something from Michael Lang. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and can be purchased via PayPal at the Phoenicia Library website, phoenicialibrary.com, by cash or check in person at the Phoenicia Library, or by check to Phoenicia Library, PO Box 555, Phoenicia NY 12464.
Artists from Shandaken to Saugerties are donating works to be sold by silent auction at the Emerson Inn on Saturday, May 28, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Board president and artist Judith Singer is organizing the event, with hors d’oeuvres catered and donated by “one of the people who loves the library.”
Flying Cat Music is planning another benefit concert at the Phoenicia Railway Museum in early summer.
No holes on Main Street
“At this point, it looks likely that the library will go back to 48 Main Street,” said Singer, sitting in one of the many small rooms the temporary library now occupies in the former health clinic a block or two from Main Street. “Although this is a lovely spot with lots of light, even this little distance from Main Street is not ideal. We know from a number of surveys of townspeople done over the last several years that the preferred location of many people is Main Street. Also we’ll get less insurance money if we don’t use it to renovate the old location. And we don’t want to leave a hole on Main Street.”
Remaining in the temporary location, with its small offices and medical exam rooms, would require extensive renovation to make the space suitable. The library board is investigating the possibility of extending the Main Street building a few feet into the back yard as part of the major repair and renovation that will be needed.
The board had a professional smoke restoration company look over the contents of the premises and were told that there was no point in trying to save the smoke-damaged books. “They said it’s best to strip everything down to the bare wood, which gives us the opportunity to install electrical wiring and computer cabling, brand-new and wherever we want,” said Singer.
Some furniture items may be sanded down and refinished, such as bookshelves built at the historic Chichester furniture factory. New bookcases have been donated, and several were built by carpenters on the work-release program from the county jail.
“People have been incredibly generous with book donations,” said Singer, “whether it’s three or, in one case, 2500 books. We appreciate the efforts people are making. A lot of the books are going right into the collection — we would’ve had to spend thousands of dollars to buy them new.” Many books are currently being catalogued before the staff puts them on the shelves. Singer estimated that 7500 books have been donated, and another 3000 are scheduled to arrive later in the week, although she said, “I don’t know where we’re going to put them.”
Money donations also continue to pour in, and Singer said there has been tremendous support from other libraries and from the Mid-Hudson Library System.
Fishing book donations
“In our incurable optimism, I’m afraid we gave the impression that we could save the fishing collection,” said Shandaken resident Beth Waterman, who has been involved for years with the books and other fishing-related memorabilia that were housed on the library’s second floor in the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection. “Once we got in and looked at it and smelled it, we realized we have to start over. Some framed items or items in cases may be okay, but we lost 800 books, 20 fishing rods, and many treasured artifacts. We have a new room in the new library, it’s been painted, and we have bookcases.” The fisherfolk are not quite ready to process new fishing books, but donations will be welcome soon.
Shandaken councilwoman Doris Bartlett said there are plans to replace the centerpiece of the collection, “six large poster boards that documented the hatches by month, done by Jerry, my husband.” The display includes pictures of the flying stream insects beloved by local fish and the corresponding actual tied flies used by anglers. Library trustee and illustrator Kurt Boyer will redesign the posters and supply pictures, and new lures will be tied.++
It’s official. Phoenicia is one of the Coolest Small Towns in America, according to Budget Travel Magazine. Actually, Phoenicia finished sixth in the competition, with the official results to be published in the September issue.
The town had to have a population of less than 10,000, be on the “upswing…because of life, arts and restaurant scene or proximity to nature,” according to a news release from Ulster County Tourism.
“For Phoenicia to be recognized by a national magazine and their readers is amazing. This is great for Phoenicia, and Shandaken as well,” Shandaken supervisor Rob Stanley told Tourism. “We have a gorgeous little community, with its own niche. It has a little bit of everything and we’re sure that anyone who visits with us will agree.”
The magazine said that “Phoenicia’s main drag is humbled by panoramic views of the magnificent 286,000-acre Catskill Forest Preserve, but surprisingly trendy stores line the street, like Mystery Spot Antiques — packed with vintage clothing, out-of-print books and quirky house wares — and the Arts Upstairs, a seven-room gallery of original works, often by local artists.”
The top five, finishing ahead of Phoenicia were Lewisburg, West Virginial; Astoria, Oregon; Clayton, New York; Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and LaPointe, Wisconsin. ++