Kids’ Almanac (June 23-30)

(Dion Ogust | Almanac Weekly)

(Dion Ogust | Almanac Weekly)

Go fish for free, design a cookie, ride a steamboat or dig for diamonds


“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.”
– Mae West


Herkimer Diamond Mines

Do you have any Minecrafter gamers at home? How about a budding gemologist? If you’ve got young people from preschool age through teen and beyond who can wield a hammer and chisel, then I highly recommend checking out the Herkimer Diamond Mines for a real hands-on mining experience. My kids love this opportunity to be real prospectors!

Mining is simple, but it is hard work: You pound rocks to get at the Herkimer diamonds that you hope are embedded inside. Sometimes the gems are partially exposed; other times you try a rock that’s pocketed with potentially promising diamond-containing divots. The stones and the hammers themselves are heavy, and the terrain is rough to walk and sit on, but my kids find mining to be satisfying work, albeit tiring.


Safety goggles are required, which you can bring from home or purchase during admission, and you need a hammer, whether it’s the provided rock hammer or your own mason or concrete hammer from home (not carpentry hammers). I also recommend bringing chisels, wedges and crowbars, as well as five-gallon buckets to carry your haul, since you get to keep everything that you find in the mine. Personally, I find the hammering too loud and jarring for my taste, so I locate all of my gems by sifting silt in the mine’s tiny water areas.

When your crew is ready for a break, you can eat on-site with your own lunch, order simple fast food at the mine’s Rock ‘n’ Rolls Café or try the Miner’s Table restaurant just across the parking lot next door. The souvenir shop has plenty of tempting Herkimer diamond jewelry pieces, as well as other gems, and the small museum area upstairs highlights interesting displays and information through educational learning stations, including facts about Herkimer diamonds: Did you know that their 7.5 hardness level makes them harder than amethyst or citrine?

A visit can be made to the Herkimer Diamond Mines as a day trip, but I prefer the relaxed pace and additional fun of an overnight at the KOA campground right across the street: The swimming pool there is a perfect way to end a day of mining! Admission to the Herkimer Diamond Mines costs $12 for ages 13 and up, $10 for ages 5 to 12 and is free for children aged 4 and under. Sluicing bags incur an additional fee and make a terrific option for younger children to discover their own treasures. You can also create custom jewelry with the Herkimer diamonds that you find: I’ve made necklaces and earrings with my 500,000,000-year-old gems.

The Herkimer Diamond Mines are located at 4626 State Route 28 North in Herkimer. For more information from some of the nicest staff you’ll ever encounter, call (315) 717-0175 or visit


Biking events

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.” Looking for some local family-friendly bike events? Here are three taking place this weekend!

Saturday, June 25: “Bikeville” is a four-mile ride for all ages around Ellenville taking place on Saturday, June 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Registration happens at the Ellenville Public Library & Museum, where safety tips for children will be shared, along with repair and maintenance information for parents. Participants are entered in a free raffle to win bike-related accessories and will receive a medallion at the finish, which gives them a discount at several local stores. Children under age 14 are required to wear a helmet. The Ellenville Public Library & Museum is located at 40 Center Street in Ellenville. For more information or to preregister, call (845) 647-5530 or visit

Sunday, June 26: “Learn to Ride – Kids” is a free group class to help children transition out of bicycle training wheels. The session takes place at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum on Sunday, June 26 from 9 to 11 a.m. The instructor to student ratio is 1:8, and the recommended participant ages are 5 to 8 years. Children need a helmet and bike without training wheels that allows their feet to touch the ground. Preregistration is preferred, with on-site registration available if space is available. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information or to register, call (845) 471-0589 or visit

Sunday, June 26: The Tour de Kingston/Ulster takes place rain or shine on Sunday, June 26, with registration beginning at Forsyth Park at 8 a.m. and staggered start times for the different-length races from 9 to 11 a.m., followed by a barbecue lunch at 12:30 p.m. for all riders. The five-mile family race is free, with preregistration preferred but not required; advance registration for the 10-, 18-, 25- and 50-mile races costs $30 per person or $50 per couple; on-site registration is $50 per person. Forsyth Park is located at 157 Lucas Avenue in Kingston. For more information or to register, call (845) 594-3231 or visit



Kids’ Cooking Class in Red Hook

Are you looking to expand your kids’ cooking repertoire beyond toaster waffles and PB & J? Register your young chefs for the Enchanted Cafe’s Kids’ Cooking Class taking place this Friday, June 24 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Children will have a blast decorating homemade cookies and cupcakes, using fruits to color frostings and selecting other delicious toppings. Food allergies? Not a problem; just contact and partner with the organizers to make it work for your child.

The cost is $15 and includes three cookies, two jumbo cupcakes, a juice box and an activity book with kid-friendly recipes. The Enchanted Café is located at 7484 South Broadway in Red Hook. For more information or to register, call (845) 835-8345 or visit



Elizabeth Mitchell opens Young People’s Concerts at the Maverick

Every summer, do you intend to take your crew to a Maverick Concerts Young People’s Concert – but then something comes up, or you simply just forget? Or are you a YPC diehard and mark your calendars and work your schedule around these amazing performances?

This Saturday, June 25 is the not-to-miss kickoff of this season’s Young People’s Concert series, with the very popular, Grammy-nominated Elizabeth Mitchell & Family at 11 a.m. at the Maverick Concert Hall. I suggest coming early to get the kids settled in the premium floor seating in front of the stage; her shows are usually standing-room-only. The interactive nature of Young People’s Concerts, along with a family-friendly atmosphere and brief concert length of 45 to 60 minutes, make for an engaging experience for children as well as their adults. Admission is free for children, and cost $5 for adults.

Mark your calendars for the Maverick’s other upcoming Young People’s Concerts this summer: the Arturo O’Farrill Quartet on July 2; the Horszowski Trio on July 16; Kim and Reggie Harris on July 23; and the Imani Winds on August 6. Maverick Concerts are located at 120 Maverick Road in Woodstock. For more information, call (845) 679-8217 or visit To learn more about Elizabeth Mitchell’s music, visit


Juggling show at Kingston Library

If you like watching juggling, eating ice cream, doing crafts and signing up for children’s summer programs, the Kingston Library has got you covered, and it’s all free! This Saturday, June 25 at 1 p.m., watch The Fun and Funny Juggling Show with Will Shaw, followed by a party with children’s activities, ice cream and registration opportunities for On Your Mark, Get Set, Read! as well as other summer events.

Children’s programming is scheduled every Thursday, such as Wild World of Animals on Thursday, June 30 at 1 p.m. with the Two by Two Zoo’s live animals including a kangaroo, lemur, rabbit and more; and The Bubble Show with Jeff Boyer on Thursday, August 11. And congratulations to the Library on the Grand Opening of the Irene Snyder Memorial Children’s Room!

The Kingston Library is located at 55 Franklin Street in Kingston. For more information or to register, call (845) 331-0507, extension 7, or visit



“Beyond Mom” workshop at Olive Free Library

I winced during a recent shopping excursion when I noticed a sign labeling my entire clothing section as “Mom,” instead of “Women’s” or “Ladies.” Because while I stand behind my love of being a mother, I have many more facets to what makes me Me. Have you ever felt like you need some support around who you are aside from Mom? Then you might be drawn to this weekend’s workshop, “Beyond Mom: Exploring Our Multiple Identities – Taking Care of Ourselves.

This gathering takes place on Saturday, June 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Olive Free Library and is free and open to the public. Through dialogue and art facilitated by New York State licensed clinical social worker Henrietta Shannon, participants will explore ways to care for and nurture themselves and others.

The Olive Free Library is located at 4033 Route 28A in West Shokan. For more information or to register, call (845) 657-2482 or visit


Enjoy Hudson River Day on the Rondout

When we live in a region identified by its waterway, events such as Hudson River Day can help us learn all about it! This Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hudson River Maritime Museum, spend the day viewing the museum’s exhibits, enjoying free steamboat rides on the Mary Theodora, listening to live music, doing crafts, watching demonstrations, taking tours of the replica of New York’s first ship of 1614, the Onrust, and more. The day’s activities range from free to nominal fees, and food will also be available for purchase on-site, so you don’t even need to pack a lunch!

The Hudson River Maritime Museum is located at 50 Rondout Landing in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 338-0071 or visit


Free Fishing Days anywhere in NYS

According to American author John Gierach, “The solution to any problem – work, love, money, whatever – is to go fishing, and the bigger the problem, the longer the trip should be.” Round up your problems, because you and anyone you like can fish New York State’s fresh or marine waters this Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26 during New York State’s Free Fishing Days. This makes it a great weekend to introduce your kids to fishing, or to head out with grandparents or friends, or just take a break from it all and head out solo.

No fishing license or recreational marine fishing registry is required, and if you’re a planner, perhaps you’d like to organize some problems to solve during the next Free Fishing Day on November 11. For more information, visit


Bee education event at Stony Kill Farm

Want to bee more aware about the awesomeness of bees? Interested in beeing a helper to support their health and growth in the ecosystem? Bring your kids to “NY is a Great Place to Bee” this Saturday, June 25 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at the Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center. Girl Scout Elizabeth Klosky and the Way to Bee! Worker Bees will guide participants in teaching about bees, making honey and ways to help bees thrive. This workshop is free and open to the public of all ages.

Want to explore more of the Farm? Come at 11 a.m. and sing around the campfire with Chris Ruhe at 11 a.m., then tour the barn to see the animals. Stony Kill Farm is located at 79 Farmstead Lane in Wappingers Falls. For more information, call (845) 831-3800 or visit



Start a nature journal at Beacon’s Long Dock Park

Before Common Core, the Internet and No Child Left Behind, renowned local naturalist John Burroughs was writing about nature. Here’s an event that enables your family to do just that! On Wednesday, June 29 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the River Center in Long Dock Park, Scenic Hudson presents “Nature Journals,” an activity for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Young people are encouraged to record sights and sounds of the outdoors in the journal, which is intended to be used all summer long.

This event is free and open to the public; all supplies will be provided, and parents are requested to remain with their children. Long Dock Park is located at 8 Long Dock Road in Beacon. For more information or to register, call (845) 473-4440, extension 238, or visit



New exhibition on Pearl Harbor attack opens at FDR Library

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Did you know that only six USS Arizona survivors currently remain? That’s the ship that experienced the most damage that day. They are Lauren Bruner, 95, La Mirada, California; Louis Conter, 94, Grass Valley, California; Lonnie Cook, 94, Morris, Oklahoma; Raymond Haerry, 93, West Warwick, Rhode Island; Ken Potts, 94, Provo, Utah; and Donald Stratton, 93, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In honor of its own 75th anniversary, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum presents three days of free public events from Thursday, June 30 to Saturday, July 2. Highlights include a new exhibition on Pearl Harbor, “Day of Infamy: 24 Hours that Changed History,” and a Family Fun Festival on Saturday, July 2 with a circus, World War II music and food trucks.

Admission to the Library and Museum is free on Thursday, June 30 and Saturday, July 2. The FDR Presidential Library and Museum is located at 4079 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park. And before you leave the estate, consider checking out the Beatrix Farrand Garden at Bellefield, a walled horticultural treasure in full bloom right now: For more information about the FDR events, call (845) 486-7745 or visit


Erica Chase-Salerno dedicates this week’s column to Michael Chase-Salerno, in honor of our 20th wedding anniversary. She can be reached at


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