This year is Red Hook’s bicentennial. When local officials conduct a commemorative opening ceremony at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, rather than the usual conventional notion of progress, many residents will cherish how much the town hasn’t changed: how it’s still mostly surrounded with productive farmland. “We have 3,000 acres under cultivation. That makes Red Hook the premier township in the Hudson Valley for agriculture,” said Christopher Klose, a member of the bicentennial committee and vice president of the local Historical Society.
Klose credited the $3.5 million bond issue passed by the town seven years ago – money dedicated to purchasing and preserving farmland – with the town’s success at preserving this important heritage. Last July, it passed the Centers and Green Spaces zoning law, which creates an agricultural business district and promotes growth through the development of traditional neighborhoods, adhering to the existing core. That means that Red Hook won’t change too much for generations to come: perhaps the surest sign of progress in a world in which so many systems, both ecological and cultural, are on the verge of collapse.
But I digress. The bicentennial ceremony will be wrapped into the town’s annual Apple Blossom Festival. Held at the Red Hook Village Center, next to Town Hall, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Festival “is a chance for neighbors and friends and families to get together and enjoy the best of Red Hook,” said Klose. There’ll be giant sheep puppets; townsmen and women dressed in 18th-century garb; good food, including the sale of lettuce and other greens grown locally; a performance by the high school jazz band; a craft show and flea market. For more information, visit www.redhook200.org. For a list of bicentennial events for the whole year, log on to http://www.redhook200.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/58210-RH-Bicentennial-lo-res-1.pdf.