Catskill Mountainkeeper, founded in 2006 by Ramsay Adams, has been leading the fight against allowing hydraulic fracking in New York State. But that’s not all: The organization is actively working to promote sustainable agriculture; move local communities toward a carbon-free future, with a program aimed at greening schools; prevent mega-casinos and other large-scale developments, which would degrade the air, water and quality of life; and maintain a network of trails, thereby encouraging hiking and other nature-oriented activities that get people into the mountains. Truly, we are blessed; how many other regions a mere 90 miles from one of the world’s largest cities can boast of being located near or within a Forever Wild unspoiled mountain wilderness preserve? Catskill Mountainkeeper reminds us what’s at stake, and never to take the precious resource for granted.
Catskill Mountainkeeper also celebrates communities, and this year’s Barnfest – the organization’s fifth annual celebration of the region’s food, arts and culture – will be toasting Woodstock. An impressive roster of celebrities centered in the Catskills will join regional performers and community movers and shakers for speeches and appearances at Andy Lee Field, the Colony Café and Photosensualis Gallery. The host for the event will be Melissa Leo, Stone Ridge resident and Oscar-winning actress, whose upcoming roles include Mamie Eisenhower in The Butler and a turn as co-star with Hugh Jackman in Prisoners.
Chevy Chase, who has deep roots in Woodstock, and his wife Jayni Chase will receive the Lifetime Environmental Achievement Award. Jayni Chase is a powerhouse of environmental activism. Realizing that raising the public’s environmental awareness begins with educating children, Jayni founded the Center for Environmental Education in 1988 and authored Blueprint for a Green School, published by Scholastic in 1995; she currently is founding chair of the GREEN Community Schools initiative, travels around presenting Al Gore’s highly successful slideshow and participates each year in the Clinton Global Initiative. She has received the Connie Award in Education from the National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Connecticut Environmental Leadership Award.
The Woodstock Land Conservancy will receive the Keeper of the Catskills Award, and the Up and Coming Catskills Award will go to Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Hudson River Ventures, which has provided funding to a number of important local initiatives, including most recently the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center for 3D printing at SUNY-New Paltz. His husband, Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, will also be on hand.
Also honored will be folksinger Happy Traum, rock ‘n’ roll photographer Catherine Sebastian and, posthumously, Levon Helm. Ben Hewitt, author of the best-selling The Town that Food Saved and Making Supper Safe – he lives with his family on a 40-acre livestock dairy, berry and vegetable farm in northern Vermont, powered by wind and solar – will be the featured speaker, talking about the multiple benefits of regionalized agriculture.
Aidan Quinn, recipient of Emmy nominations and star of more than 40 feature films, will co-chair Barnfest with Catskill Mountainkeeper executive director Ramsay Adams and Patrick Dollard, president and CEO of the Center for Discovery, the first health care facility in the country to be registered with the US Green Building Council; Dollard also was the visionary behind the Thanksgiving Farm CSA, which for more than 25 years has been providing fresh produce for the Center, as well as work opportunities for the residents.
Local bands will perform at the outdoor stage at Andy Lee Field and at the Colony. Dear Governor Cuomo and Carbon Nation will be shown at Photosensualis, followed by a discussion with Jon Bowermaster, director of Dear Governor Cuomo, and Roger Downs, conservation director of the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter. The event will kick off at 12 noon with a musical called The Little Farm Show that will help explain the origins of food all the way back to the formation of the solar system. Paul Green, founder of Rock Academy, will take the stage at 2 p.m. with some young musicians. Musician Amy Helm and Woodstock town supervisor Jeremy Wilbur will also contribute to the festivities. Activities for the kids include Parrots for Peace, a family of four blue and gold macaws (one does bird yoga), and face-painting.
Barnfest will be held from 12 noon to 5 p.m. The entertainment, celeb-watching and environmental educational events, complemented by delicious local comestibles, craft vendors, an art auction and raffle, will be completely free. All you have to do is register; see below. (However, don’t feel shy about donating to Catskill Mountainkeeper.)
Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Barnfest, Saturday, June 22, 12 noon-5 p.m., free with preregistration, Andy Lee Field/Colony Café/Photosensualis; (845) 482-5400, www.catskillmountainkeeper.org.