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10 Things to Know About Kingston


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When red goat graffiti appeared uptown in 2012, a Kingston Times editorial admonished the city for failing to "embrace its inner goat." None has embraced it more than the "stubbornly independent" Kingston Film Festival, which made the goat its logo. The festival's Season 3 runs August 15-17, presenting feature, short, experimental, big-budget, microbudget films, documentaries, animation, and trailers. Each offering must contain a Kingston component: director, writer, actor, or setting.

You know a city's made it when the creative and famous adopt it. Latest case in point: Bishop Allen. This indie band relocated from Brooklyn about a year ago. Its new record, Lights Out, to be released in August, includes the single "Start Again," and a music video that traces the band's day through its new hometown. Check out Bishopallen.com. Kingston's never looked so cool.

IBM's pulling out of Kingston in 1995 has long been bemoaned. Now, at the Fred J. Johnston Museum (corner of Wall and Main Streets), Friends of Historic Kingston offers closure with "Kingston: The IBM Years," an exhibit and accompanying book. The exhibit explores IBM's creation of new neighborhoods and achievements like the SAGE air defense system, and features 50 IBMers' oral histories, early electric typewriters, and vintage photographs.

Tired of wandering lonely through the supermarket? Stock up on produce while meeting new people on Saturdays at the Kingston Farmers' Market. The market runs year-round: outdoors on upper Wall Street from Memorial Day through Thanksgiving on Saturdays, 9am-2pm, and every other Saturday December to April in the basement of the Old Dutch Church. Nearly 40 vendors offer local produce and products, including artisanal whiskey, cheese, honey, juices, soaps, and cured venison.

The downtown Parisian-style Kingston Night Market, founded last year, is the next-best thing to escaping to the City of Light. Held downtown at the end of Broadway on the third Friday of each month from 6 to 10pm, the Night Market's quirky offerings include an antiques market, live music, free wine and food tastings, craft activities, photo booth, and Tarot reader.

Kingston attracts the biggest crowds for its Art Walk, held on the first Saturday of each month year-round, 5 to 9pm. More than 20 art galleries located uptown, downtown, and on and off Broadway open their doors, along with artists' studios, featuring live music, theater, historical reenactments, and refreshments. A shuttle bus sponsored by Arts Society of Kingston, located on lower Broadway, offers rides for $1 per person.

A former gourmet desert, Kingston's uptown has become a foodie mecca of restaurants emphasizing the local in both food sources and community building. Uptown's ultramodern Elephant Wine Bar offers award-winning tapas and wine selections; old New York-style Boitson's aims to please everybody with hamburgers, veggie burgers, oysters, and foie gras; Stockade Tavern, recently named one of America's top 20 bars by Esquire magazine, features bartenders who are every bit as excellent as the Prohibition-style cocktails they serve; and Duo Bistro features homemade smoked meats, breads, and pastries. Downtown, try Dolce, serving innovative breakfast and lunches featuring gluten-free crepes and homemade English muffins.

The 24.5 miles of railroad tracks between Kingston and Phoenicia are the subject of a legal and political battle between Ulster County Executive Michael Hein, who seeks to turn much of the corridor into a rail trail, and Catskill Mountain Railroad, which operates seasonal tourist trains on separate tracks in Kingston and Phoenicia, and looks to extend service between the two areas. Catskill Mountain Railroad's lease expires in 2016.

Kingston's resurgence is being built by fearless entrepreneurs like Michael and Theresa Drapkin, who relocated from New York City to found downtown's Kingston Wine Co. (65 Broadway). Dedicated to creating a "strong cultural narrative that weaves together wine and food in context," the Drapkins offer a wide variety of activities related to wine and food, including a monthly wine share, 10-minute wine classes, and collaborative events with local restaurants.

Kingston's music scene has taken off, in part thanks to Backstage Productions, housed in Keeney's Theater, an early-1900s vaudeville and movie theater on Wall Street. BSP Lounge features performances by local bands (Felice Brothers) along with nationally recognized indie bands like Kurt Vile, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Sean Ono Lennon's Ghost of the Saber Toothed Tiger. Behind the lounge is a dance studio offering classes in everything from hip-hop to hula hoops, and the original theater, which hosts large groups.


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