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Historical Contemporary

Rhinbeck, Red Hook, Tivoli


Last Updated: 01/19/2020 4:06 am

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It's not just painters and sculptors and quilters. It's also musicians and dancers and writers and filmmakers. And it's the people who make up their audience. Taste Budd's in Red Hook has open mic nights on Thursdays. Upstate Films shows independent films, documentaries, and hard-to-find features. (Mark your calendars. On February 12 they'll screen local filmmaker Tobe Carey's documentary Sweet Violets. See page 109 for a preview.)

And then there's Bard. Bard College is like an underground river feeding the region culture and intellectual opportunity. Symphony, dance and theatrical performances at the Fisher Center are worthy of big city concert halls. But like a secret delight, they're here. Locals enjoy the perks of being college-campus-adjacent. They find tranquility in the Rose Garden at Blithewood mansion and enjoy community access to the gym and aquatic center. The faculty and students populate these towns, bringing with them a vibrancy of new ideas.

Tivoli: Tiny Gem

The community of Tivoli is a hidden gem just north of Bard that contributes its fair share to the richness and creativity of the area as well. Tangent Theatre was formed in New York City but now lives in Tivoli. From fully mounted plays to pub readings to an annual New Play Festival, Tangent creates professional theater—here. The Kaatsbaan International Dance Center cultivates 'extreme ballet' in their classes and residency programs for dedicated dancers. Where else would a dance center sit on over 150 acres of preserved land—furthering its mission of professional dance and land conservation? In Tivoli, residents of all ages paint the streets with designs for a fall festival. As varied as the arts, the restaurants represent the gamut of tastes and cuisine: Osaka for Japanese, Santa Fe for Mexican, Panzur for wine and tapas. Luna 61 is a vegetarian delight. And Murray's, the cozy classy coffee house, fits right in. Even the Black Swan Pub has a performance space in back. Stop in for Guinness and you're likely to get some funky live music to go along with it.

These vibrant towns are dedicated to feeding the spirits of their young minds, too. The programming at the libraries and the variety of private classes available for kids from "Go" clubs to Irish step dancing (Rhinebeck's Solas an Lae is a multidisciplinary Irish-American dance troupe) speaks to the value placed on enrichment and education. The schools have Science Fairs that are open to the public. And the best part is this public shows up.

The Historic Village Diner in Red Hook. - DAVID MORRIS CUNNINGHAM

People live here in ways that connect them to creating, whether that be growing food or roasting coffee beans. (Walk in, take a breath of coffee goodness, and pick up your fresh roasted custom blend of beans at J.B. Peel in Red Hook.) When residents talk about these towns, the same words crop up again and again. Family, community, nature, art.

Many families have lived here for generations, caring for one another and sustaining this community with their work. Small, family-owned businesses help preserve the tenderness of this place and keep the big box stores at bay. A.L. Stickle, "an original 5 and dime," opened in 1946, and has been in the Stickle family ever since. Sure, you could buy a notebook or a deck of cards online. But after a personal welcome from Matt as you walk past the skeins of yarn, poster board, shoe polish and lamp shades, you walk out with more than a few notions. You walk out with a sense of belonging.

We belong to the valley here. We pick our own fruits at Mead Orchards and Greig Farm. We celebrate the seasons, the harvest, the abundance of our lives with street festivals and impromptu gatherings at Holy Cow ice cream.

The Sinterklaas Festival embodies it best. For the month of November, children and adults stop by the Rhinebeck workshop to craft branches and crowns and puppets by hand for the festival. Then the communities share in the celebration that welcomes everyone to participate; to sing, to dance, or to just watch. It's the very best that culture and creativity and small towns and big ideas and open hearts have to offer.

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