Maritime Museum in Kingston to host Hudson River Days

The Clearwater (photo by Dion Ogust)

The replica of Henry Hudson’s sailing ship the Half Moon and the sloop Clearwater will be two of the star attractions at Hudson River Days, the annual summer festival held at the Hudson River Maritime Museum on July 20 and 21. Boat displays and tours spanning 400 years of river history, a demonstration of 18th-century shipboard cooking (presented by Susan McLellan Plaisted, proprietor of Bucks County, Pennsylvania-based Heart to Hearth Cookery) and a performance by the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston (POOK) and the Energy Dance Company, Kingston-based percussive and dance ensembles showcasing the energy and talent of local youth, are highlights.

There’ll be plenty of activities for children, including a model-boat-building workshop followed up by toy boat races and painting sailcloth pendants under the guidance of Todd Samara, a Kingston artist who contributed the mural on the side of the Museum building. This year’s festival will extend over two days instead of the usual one, and be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Back in the water and more handsome than ever since the rebuilding of its stern last winter –its winter port is now the Kingston Home Port and Education Center, the large barn that was erected last fall on the museum grounds – the Clearwater will be open for deck tours, as will the Pennsylvania Railroad No. 399, a historic railroad barge that once shunted rail cars back and forth in New York Harbor. Tours on the Rondout Creek will be offered on the small steamboat Mary Theodora – it’s first-come, first-served – while the Mercury, a replica of the two-masted and oared workboats, called periaugers, that plied the waters of the river in the 18th century, will be undergoing repairs by the First Ulster County Militia, dressed in period work clothes and working with authentic period tools.

Seahorse, the two-man yellow submarine used in forensic dives by archaeologists in Lake George and other freshwater lakes in the state, will be on display, with a talk about its technical capabilities and future projects by Mark Trezza.

Captain John Lipscomb of Riverkeeper, who is constantly traveling up and down the river from New York City to Albany in his patrol boat, will be on hand to discuss his water quality testing program and other issues related to the health of the river. Plaisted, who describes her forays into historical cookery as “experimental archaeology in food,” will demonstrate the typical dishes cooked on both American and English ships during and after the Revolution.

You can get your photo taken at the Broadway Photo Booth, akin to the self-service booths that once graced Woolworth’s. On Sunday, awards and prizes will be handed out to the young artists contributing to the clothesline exhibition strung around the 1898 tug Mathilda, in the museum’s courtyard (location of the art work dependent on weather). The model boatbuilding workshops will be on-going each day with the toy-boat races to follow at 1 and 4 pm on Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Hudson Talbott will read and discuss the award-winning book that he wrote and illustrated, River of Dreams.

POOK and the Energy Dance Company will perform at 3:30 p.m. Throughout the day, there will be music under the gazebo and access to vendors, including the Brook Farm CSA; comestibles will be served by the Lunch Box (noted for its hot dogs) and Two Cake Pop Mamas, who will offer circular pops of iced and decorated cake on a stick.

The same day, three other events will converge in the environs of the museum:

The launch of the 100-Mile Paddle, a two-day race of stand-up paddleboarders to New York City that will raise funds for autistic children [see following article].

A county-sponsored scavenger hunt called “Cruise into Kingston’s History with the Mary Powell,” involving a free tour of seven historic sites in Kingston. Participants pick up their “cruising passes” at the museum and are then shuttled to the different sites, each of which contains clues to the items listed on the form.

The Hudson Rising tour, which will set up an Adventure Village, with games for kids, at nearby Gallo Park. The Adventure Village features climbing games for kids and experienced climbers, as well as a display of mountain bikes, kayaks and other outdoor gear. Hudson Rising is an initiative of the New York State Economic Development Committee, which is visiting five cities.

Visits to the vessels and vendors will also be available on Sunday, along with the model boat building and racing. At 12 noon two short films from days past, Roger and Nancy on the Steamboat Alexander Hamilton, a quasi-documentary from the 1930s, and the cartoon Steamboat Willie, featuring the first appearance of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, will be shown, followed at 1:30 by the 1928 silent film Steamboat Bill, Jr., starring Buster Keaton.

Other upcoming events include a showing on July 28, of Spirit of Thunderheart, a documentary film by Pamela Timmins, followed by a performance of the women’s drum circle that it profiles.

On August 1, two separate-but-parallel journeys by different Native American groups will converge at the museum for a few hours. More than 200 canoeists and kayakers, the core of whom launched onto the Mohawk River from the Onondaga Nation earlier this month and are now on their way down the Hudson to New York City, are commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum, a landmark treaty. They’ll be meeting up with the Dakota Nation Unity Riders, who are traveling by horseback from their home in Manitoba down the Hudson Valley to New York City and Washington, DC in a journey dedicated to the cause of universal peace and healing. There won’t be any public event during the meeting at the museum, but people are welcome to come and see the impressive grouping of horses and canoes.

On August 17 and 18 the museum will host the Antique and Classic Boats show, which promises to be an eye-catching display of vintage mahogany speedboats and small yachts.

Hudson River Days, Saturday/Sunday, July 20/21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., $5 adults/$3 children 5-18 & seniors/$15 families/free members; Hudson River Maritime Museum, 50 Rondout Landing, Kingston; (845) 338-0071, ext. 15, Cruise into Kingston’s History with the Mary Powell scavenger hunt, Saturday, July 20, free; (845) 340-3040,



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