With any luck, we are over the hump with COVID. US fatalities peaked in mid-January at 3,300 a day, and we’re down to 343 a day as of mid-June. Plus: Almost half the country’s population is fully vaccinated (in Ulster County a whopping 55.63% are fully poked). Many businesses have stopped requiring masks for fully vaccinated individuals, and it’s starting to look like the Before Times on the streets of the Hudson Valley’s towns and cities. Here are six signs that our long struggle with COVID-19 is almost over.
CIA Restaurants Reopen to the Public
On May 25, the Culinary Institute of America reopened the dining rooms in its on-campus restaurants American Bounty and the Bocuse to the public (the other eateries and the brewery remained closed till further notice). When the CIA moved from New Haven to Hyde Park in 1970, it put the Hudson Valley on the culinary map. Graduates of CIA—Anthony Bourdain, Sohla El-Waylly, Marcus Samuelsson, and Sara Moulton among them—have been doing it ever since. As the name might indicate, at American Bounty, expect to find seasonally rotating menus of contemporary and traditional regional dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. At the Bocuse, classic French fare is reimagined using cutting-edge culinary techniques. Both restaurants are open Tuesday through Saturday.
Upstate Films & Others Gear Up the Projectors
After a whopping 460 days closed, beloved local gem Upstate Films will reopen its flagship cinema in Rhinebeck on Friday, June 18 (the Woodstock location is no more). On the docket? A sweet suite of films ranging from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights to Street Gang, which takes you behind the scenes with “Sesame Street”; Oscar winners Nomadland and Minari; and Summer of Soul about the ’69 Harlem Cultural Festival. This isn’t the only theater reopening for indoor screenings: the Moviehouse in Millerton is up and running (under new owners), as is Story Screen in Beacon; and the Crandell Theater in Chatham reopens July 1. (We’re still waiting on news from Downing Film Center in Newburgh.)
UPAC is BACK! (in August)
Sound the alarms, Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston and its sister venue in Poughkeepsie, Bardavon, will be reopening in August with LIVE, INDOOR shows. Tickets went on sale last week for the first four new shows announced: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (August 22); Dispatch (acoustic, September 25); David Sedaris, (October 16); and Words & Music: An intimate evening with Patti Smith (November 13). These new shows join the rollover roster from 2020, which range from Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (October 24) to Celtic Woman (March 20, 2022).
Masks Are Off at Adams, etc.
It’s a trip to walk down the aisles of everyone’s favorite local grocery store and see other people’s faces. Is there a truer sign that COVID is close to over than seeing the beautiful mandibles of fellow shoppers at Adams Fairacre Farms’ four locations (and other grocery stores, like Hannaford and Shop Rite, for that matter)? Still, use some self control and maybe don’t sniff the peaches before returning them to the shelf.
Music Festivals Are A-Rockin’
After a live music drought, there is a bout of music festivals throughout the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and the Berkshires this summer to soothe your soul and get your feet moving. Coming up in July: Tanglewood for classical music, Brassroots Festival for brass band jams, and, of course, Bard Music Festival and its crown jewel Summerscape, with a world-class line-up of live music, dance, opera, cabaret and performance acts.
County Fair Season is ON!
On June 14, Governor Cuomo announced that the New York State Fair, the long-running annual palooza in Syracuse, would return—at 100 percent capacity—a bellwether for the times. The 181st Orange County Fair takes over Middletown July 15-August 1; Ulster County Fair will take place in New Paltz August 3-8; the Dutchess County Fair returns to Rhinebeck August 24-29; and the Columbia County Fair will happen from September 1-6. Get ready for teacups and ferris wheels, concerts and 4-H competitions, and of course, fair food. The funnel cake won’t eat itself, folks.