Monday, January 26, 2015

Get Your Winter Fest On

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Youngsters sitting in with Elizabeth Mitchell at The Winter Hoot 2013 - JACK BARAN
  • Jack Baran
  • Youngsters sitting in with Elizabeth Mitchell at The Winter Hoot 2013

If you’re like me, ogling every blocked street, hay-strewn mud puddle, and enigmatically-fastened paper wristband that happens by, if the sound of banjos or the glimpse of red, plastic cups are enough to make your toes start tapping, and if your family already has multiple meet-up spots, in case you get separated, then you’re fully satiated by living in the Hudson Valley in the summer and fall. But what’s a festival-lover to do in the winter months?

First, find a kindred soul in Ruthy Merenda. She grew up in the world of Hudson Valley music and festivals, and put together The Hoot back in February 2013 when she and husband/music partner, Mike, organized the festival. It was such a raging success that they took The Hoot outside that summer, and they’ve been organizing two Hoots every year ever since. This Winter Hoot, held January 30th-February 1st, indoors at the Ashokan Center, boasts local, kid-friendly musical performers like Elizabeth Mitchell and Uncle Rock, demos in the blacksmithing shop, and a family-friendly square dance. Ruthy says they’ve worked harder than ever to organize the family angle by partnering with local kid-related groups from the community to lead different activities at the Kid Zone all day on Saturday, January 31st. It kicks off with stories and songs at 1:30p, followed by winter crafts and an epic marble run. Check out the parade at 6p and the evening chill out time. “My vision is that in 10 years we'll have a fun crew of teenagers who've been coming to The Hoot since they were 5, and they still want to come!” Ruthy says. The Winter Hoot is "pay what you want”, and contributions help fund the Ashokan Center's environmental programs for students. The suggested donation is $30-60 per adult, but any amount (large or small) will get you a weekend wristband. Indoor capacity is limited (especially for Saturday evening), so reserve tickets and guarantee admission online at or at the Woodstock Music Shop. FYI, volunteers are always needed, and they get a free place to bunk for the night!

Also, on Saturday, January 31st, are two city festivals, both free. Each offers wintery ways to play outside, fun stuff for warming up indoors, and an opportunity to support a good cause.

click to enlarge Snowshoeing at Hasbrouck Park during Winter Fest 2013 - STEVE NOBLE
  • Steve Noble
  • Snowshoeing at Hasbrouck Park during Winter Fest 2013

Kingston’s 6th Annual Winter Fest at Hasbrouck Park on Delaware Avenue is sponsored by the City of Kingston Parks and Recreation Department and by the Friends of Forsyth Nature Center. Guided snowshoe hikes will be led by Forsyth’s fabulous Environmental Educator, Julie Noble, and include instruction on sport basics, animal tracking, and winter survival skills. Snowshoes will be provided and lessons, good for all ages and levels of experience, are first come, first serve. Dress warm and ready for the weather. Inside the Hasbrouck Park Stone Building will be hot chocolate and nature-based crafts, like pine needle sachets and Replictrack Stories. Grab a s’mores kit for the bonfire! The event is 10a-2p, weather-permitting. Check Facebook for updates before you go.

The annual Winter Fest at Lippman Park on Route 209 is partnering with Minnewaska State Preserve to offer park fun, including ice skating, hay rides, broom ball and other games, from 10a-4p. At 10:30a, a family-friendly snowshoe hike led by Minnewaska’s own, Laura Conner, will explore animal activity on the trails, which feature a wetland and early successional forest. Conner will have tools on hand for making nature rubbings that kids can take home. It’s sponsored by the Ellenville Wawarsing Youth Commission and by the Renegades MTB Bike Club (the group, whose volunteer efforts, are responsible for building and maintaining the hiking and biking trails around the park). Parking is free. Food vendors will be available. Call 845.647-7800 ext. 129 for more info.

Wherever you are this weekend, there’s a winter fest for you!
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