Barn Dancin’ on the Rondout this Sunday

Pete Seeger at the fall 2012 raising of the Kingston Home Port and Education Center (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

Some relationships just work. That’s how it is with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and the Hudson River Maritime Museum (HRMM), who share the Kingston Home Port and Education Center on the Kingston waterfront on a “six months in, six months out” basis, according to the museum’s Lana Chassman. During the winter, when the Clearwater can’t go out on the river, its keepers use the 4,600-square-foot barn as a maintenance workshop. The other half of the year, the Hudson River Maritime Museum moves into the space, using it for events, lectures and educational activities.

The ground floor is open to the public; the upper story is workspace and storage for museum archives. “And it works beautifully,” says Chassman. “The barn takes on the character of whatever is in there: It dresses up for elegant sit-down dinners we have catered there, and then it turns into a boat workshop with sawdust flying and people working in tee-shirts – it’s amazing.”

The finely crafted 64-foot-by-36-foot structure made of reclaimed local wood is still relatively new, erected in September of 2012 with much fanfare in an old-fashioned community barnraising overseen by the benevolent presence of Pete Seeger. There were those at the time who were skeptical, Chassman notes, “who said the building wouldn’t fit in or was going to be an eyesore. But when you see it, it looks like it was always supposed to be here. The 1898 steam tugboat Mathilda is right there, and it’s a great building to function in, and so well-made. It’s architectural perfection for a barn.”

This weekend, the Kingston Home Port and Education Center will host a community gathering of fun, light refreshments and contra dancing in “Barn Dancin’ on the Rondout,” a collaborative fundraising event equally benefiting HRMM and the Clearwater. And like last year’s inaugural barn dance at the site, live music will be provided for dancing throughout the evening by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, with calling by Peter Blue.

The barn will be staged atmospherically, with archival semaphore flags from the museum’s collection and antiques from Milne’s at Home Antiques of Kingston. It’s a family-friendly affair, with kids sure to find a haybale or two to kick back on and watch the dancing.

New this year is an arrangement they’re calling “Barn Dance up an Appetite,” says Chassman, where five waterfront restaurants have agreed to offer a special dinner either before or after the barn dance. Participating restaurants include Dermot Mahoney’s Irish Pub, Mariner’s Harbor, Savona’s Trattoria, Ship to Shore and the Steel House Restaurant and Bar.

At the dance, there will be light finger-foods – cheese and crackers, fruit, mini-pastries – donated by local merchants and coffee, tea and water. In the early part of the evening, Coppersea Distilling from West Park, a single farm-sourced distillery that makes spirits using heritage methods, will offer shots of one of its spirits, probably whiskey, included with the price of admission.

Tickets are available at the door for $25. To save $5, register online in advance at No payment is taken online; the event organizers offer the discount to say thanks for letting them know in advance how many people to expect. All monies will be collected at the door. Children under age 12 get in free.

Barn Dancin’ on the Rondout, Sunday, April 13, 5:30-8:30 p.m., $25/$20, Kingston Home Port & Education Center, 50 Rondout Landing, Kingston; (845) 338-0071,,



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