Interpretive Center at book fair, christens a new path

cic-HZTLast spring the Catskill Interpretive Center (CIC), a collection of exhibits and information about the region, opened up in a brand-new building on Route 28 in Mount Tremper. Since then, the non-profit groups running the CIC have expanded the center’s services by holding programs for the public, hosting events, and building a hiking trail on the property.

The half-mile trail will open on Saturday, June 4, in the midst of the center’s first annual book fair, featuring local publishers and authors. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 39 non-fiction and fiction writers, poets, and children’s authors will speak in 30-minute slots in three speakers’ tents. Publishers and local organizations will offer books for sale, and there will be two 45-minute panel discussions.

“The bulk of the presenters and exhibitors will be Catskill authors or publishers of titles that are Catskill-themed,” said Michael Drillinger of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, coordinator of programming and volunteer efforts for CIC. The book fair is, therefore, right in line with the CIC’s mission to interpret natural, recreational, cultural, agricultural, and historical resources of the Catskills.


“It’s an information center,” pointed out Woodstock Arts publisher Weston Blelock, who recruited presenters for the book fair. “That’s the same beat for publishers and authors.” The event offers opportunities for networking among the literary community as well as presentations of interest to the public.

Vernon Benjamin will discuss his new book, The Hudson Valley: From the Civil War to Modern Times. Evan Pritchard will talk about Native Americans of the region. A bevy of poets include Judith Kerman of Mayapple Press and Bertha Rogers of Bright Hill Press. Carol and Dave White, authors of books on hiking, will discuss treks throughout the area. Fiction writers such as Brent Robison, Michael Joyce, and the children’s writer, Mercedes Cecilia, will be giving talks. (Full disclosure: I am also involved, leading a participatory workshop about honoring the ancestors.)

Geddy Sveikauskas of Ulster Publishing will moderate a panel discussion exploring documentary filmmaking in the Catskills, and Will Nixon of Bushwhack Books will host a discussion of “The Catskills as a Creative Muse.”

Publishers offering their books include McPherson & Co., Bright Hill Press, Station Hill, Mayapple, Black Dome, Purple Mountain, as well as exhibitors Bill Birns, the Ulster County Library Association, the Golden Notebook, the Historical Society of Woodstock, and the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild.

Admission is free, and a percentage of income from book sales will benefit the CIC, which will have snacks and drinks available for purchase.

Around 11 a.m., a ribbon-cutting will celebrate the opening of the new trail, with hikes up the slope behind the center to a picnic area at the top.

The trail was built by volunteers and members of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the Catskill Conservation Corps. They also removed invasive plants from around the center’s entrance bridge and planted native species, dovetailing with the CIC’s series of talks in May about dealing with invasive plants and insects. Earlier presentations at the center included a conclave of local historians, a talk on the rescue of feral honeybees in the Catskills, an account of John Burroughs’ expedition up Slide Mountain, and more.

Among the forthcoming series of second Saturday presentations will be Dr. Michael Kudish, discussing the history of the hemlock in the Catskills, scheduled for Saturday, June 11, 1p.m.-3 p.m. Maraleen Manos-Jones, the Butterfly Lady, will appear on Saturday, July 9, also 1 p.m.-3 p.m., discussing how to protect monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Still in the planning stages are a poetry festival and a repetition of last summer’s family-oriented campfire.

Local experts on nature-related subjects are welcome to propose workshops or hikes at the center. All events have to be free, open to the public, and held during normal operating hours, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., seven days a week. Volunteers are also sought to run the information desk, a task Drilliger called “a great experience. They’ll meet people from all over the world who have heard about the Catskills but have no clue about where to go and what to do. To have people who know the area share their knowledge is a great thing for everyone.” Potential presenters or volunteers may contact Michael Drillinger at 914-482-5771 or


The Catskill Interpretive Center Book Fair will be held Saturday, May 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 5096 Route 28, Mount Tremper. Admission is free.