Holiday activities in Woodstock and Shandaken

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Woodstock Open House Saturday

This year’s Annual Woodstock Holiday Open House has made some significant changes from past years. This year it will be held in extended hours, 3 p.m.-9 p.m. and has moved to a Saturday, December 3. The new afternoon opening will allow, says the event’s sponsor the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Arts, parents with young children to visit Santa at the Chamber booth on Rock City Road. And the evening hours are an opportunity to shop at many town stores which will remain open.

It will feature holiday themed windows, free entertainment throughout the town, dining at the many restaurants and stores providing special sales and complementary refreshments.

Scheduled events include WDST Radio broadcasting live from the Village Green, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.; Santa at the chamber booth from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.; Energy Dance Co. and Percussion of Kingston, from 4 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; Victorian Carolers throughout Town courtesy of the Woodstock Playhouse, 4 p.m.-5 p.m.; Tree Lighting on the Village Green, 4:30 p.m.-5 p.m.; Nancy Tierney and the Boys, 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; Kingston Catholic School Singers, 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; Dave Mason singing on the Village Green, 5 p.m.-6 p.m.; Bonfires and S’mores at the Chamber booth on Rock City Rd. and next to the Old Forge Building on Tinker Street, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; Mrs. Claus Face Painting at H. Houst and Son, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; Mirabai’s Magical MadriGALS Lou Pollack, Julie Last and friends sing along and complimentary savory buttered nuts at Mirabai Bookstore, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.; Santa at the chamber booth and at the bonfire on Tinker Street, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.; and Dave Mason singing on the Village Green, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.


Updated information on the Open House can be found on the Woodstock Facebook page or at


Coming Home from Sarah of Overlook Mountain. Watercolor by Jean White, who will read from the book Sunday at the Woodstock Historical Society.

“Coming Home” from “Sarah of Overlook Mountain”. Watercolor by Jean White, who will read from the book Sunday at the Woodstock Historical Society.

The fine arts of the holiday

One of the truisms regarding holiday art shows is that they’re always crowded, what with the many artists involved, and the local community’s penchant for buying and giving art this time of year.

Need proof that that last statement wasn’t concocted and foisted upon us by some 16-year old in Azerbaijan, or some nefarious Russian cable channel? Just check the walls of local homes and count the numbers of small works of art on display, picked up from the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild’s annual 5×7 Show at the Kleinert/James Arts Center on Tinker Street, where similarly-sized works are shown anonymously and each priced at $100. It opens with a splash during Woodstock’s annual Open House Friday night, December 2, with a number of the larger art world’s top stars among the 375 submissions that start to sell as soon as the Preview Party opens its doors, for a price, at 5 p.m. sharp.

This year, the art buying fun will expand with a Saturday, December 3 Affordable Art Fair and Holiday Art Sale at the Woodstock School of Art — based on a concept that started growing in the late 1990s as a reaction to the tide of high end art fairs worldwide (prices ran up to only the $10,000 range). At the WSA, artists will pay $35 for a table and easel set up to display their fine art (with no crafts allowed), and in addition to registrations the school will raise funds by taking a 35 percent commission on all sales limited to $250 and under.

The WSA show, noon to 4 p.m., will meanwhile run alongside the School of Art’s ongoing Monoprint Exhibit and be augmented, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 3, with a second opening for a special Black and White on the Green print exhibit and sale at the Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty offices at 11-13 Mill Hill Road. The show stays up until early March.

WFG Gallery will open its holiday-orientes Mix It Up 2016 show, featuring nine popular local artists — Anne Crowley, Nancy Campbell, Stuart Klein, Bill Mead, Karen O’Neil, Julia Santos Solomon, Richard Segalman, Rob Wade and Pamela Wallace — with an opening reception from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, December 3 at the Woodstock Framing Gallery, 31 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, with a focus on expressive use of color. Visit for more info.

Also this weekend, the Historical Society of Woodstock will host its annual Holiday Exhibit and Sale from noon-6 p.m. on Saturday, December 3 and continuing on Sunday, December 4; Saturday, December 10; and Sunday December 11. This year’s exhibit features an assortment of Woodstock quilts, including one created for the town’s bicentennial, as well as holiday cards originally created by Tatra Prints in the 1960s and 70s. As a special treat, Jean White will read from her new book Sarah of Overlook Mountain, offering tales from the well-lived life of Sarah MacDaniel Cashdollar and featuring illustrations done by the author, at 2 p.m. on Sunday December 4. The Historical Society of Woodstock is located on lower Comeau Drive across from the Woodstock Town Hall. For more information, e-mail

Meanwhile, ongoing holiday art exhibits are currently up around the area.

At the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum on the Village Green, which opened its latest bevy of exhibits, open through December, last weekend with a big splash of a party. In addition to the big Main Gallery Holiday Show there’s a wondrous realist landscape show by Judy Abbott, a wonderful small works show downstairs, some great fish-oriented works by Bennett Middle School students, and the last weeks of the WAAM Permanent Collection’s  charming All Creatures Great and Small exhibit.

The Arts Upstairs, in Phoenicia, is presenting a group show by the East Branch Delaware River Plein Air Painters, while Elena Zang, on Route 212 in Shady, is offering up a potpourri of high end fine art pottery and a “best of” selection of its fine stable of artists through January and the Center for Photography at Woodstock will continue its provocative surrealist exhibit of works by the ParkeHarrisons into the new year.

Talk about a healthy selection to choose — and collect — some great local art and more from!

– Paul Smart

For more on the 5×7 opening Friday, December 2 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Kleinert/James Arts Center at 34 Tinker Street, call 679-2079 or see

For more on the Woodstock School of Art’s Holiday and Affordable Art Fairs from 12 noon to 4 PM on Saturday, December 3 at the WSA campus on Route 212 east of the hamlet, or their art opening at Village Green Realty at 11-13 Mill Hill Road that same day from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., call 679-2388 or see


Cast members of "Miracle on 34th Street" From left: David Dancyger, Faye Storms, Alan Shevlo and Kailee Cornelison in the STS Playhouse production. (photo by Mark Loete)

Cast members of “Miracle on 34th Street” From left: David Dancyger, Faye Storms, Alan Shevlo and Kailee Cornelison in the STS Playhouse production. (photo by Mark Loete)

Shandaken celebrates the holiday season

Christmas is coming early to Phoenicia this year, with tree-lighting, caroling, a crafts fair, and a firehouse party scheduled for Saturday, December 3. On Saturday, December 17, there will be a free family Christmas show at STS, parties at the Empire State Railway Museum and the Phoenicia Library, and a shamanic journey for the solstice, offered at the yoga studio in Chichester.

Phoenicia businesses are collaborating with the M.F. Whitney Hose Company for the bulk of the December 3 festivities, said Brooke Baxter-Bailey, who runs the Glass Mountain Inn with her husband, Jess Bailey, also a volunteer firefighter. “They’ve been so excited and supportive,” said Baxter-Bailey. “The fire department came down to help the businesses hang lights, and the businesses gave donations to the fire department.”

The Phoenicia firehouse has a long tradition of holiday parties, with gifts for kids and visits to the senior home on Mt. Ava Maria Road. But Baxter-Bailey felt a bigger attendance would make for a wider community celebration. She offered to apply her organizing skills to this year’s events, with the help of Jennifer Montalbano, a Shandaken resident and professional grantwriter. Montalbano obtained donations from local businesses, including a generous gift from Ulster Savings Bank and the participation of the Phoenicia Business Association.

The December 3 festivities will begin with a Holiday Craft and Gift Show from noon to 5 p.m., at the St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church Parish Hall, located at the east end of Main Street. (The craft show continues on Sunday, noon-4 p.m., with a visit from Santa and elves between noon and 2 p.m.) At 5 p.m. on Saturday, people will gather in front of the Ice Cream Station, 76 Main Street, for a tree-lighting ceremony, with a special treetopper created by Phoenicia artist Christina Varga. “We hope this continues as tradition,” said Baxter-Bailey, “that each year we will find a different local artist who will create a treetopper specific to the mountains and to our town. We have so many artists and musicians here.” Live music will be provided by Chris Maxwell, Nadou Louis, and surprise guests. Hot cocoa will be served.

Santa will arrive at the tree-lighting by firetruck to give the children junior firefighter hats and little lights for a caroling procession led by the Catskills Ukulele Group. They will sing their way to the firehouse, Route 214 and Tremper Avenue, where the party begins at 6 p.m. The Christmas tree is to be decorated with ornaments made by kids at Woodland Playhouse, Phoenicia Elementary School, and the Onteora High School art club. There will be free apple cider and hot cocoa donated by Migliorelli’s and Amy’s Takeaway, plus snacks and drinks from other local businesses. Children can get their faces painted and have photos taken on Santa’s lap, and STS actors will perform a scene from Miracle on 34th Street. Shops on Main Street will be open late.


“We did a holiday radio show last year, and it was really successful,” said STS Playhouse artistic director Michael Koegel. “We hope to keep doing it every year. It’s a lot of fun, and people get to use their imagination. They respond to a classic this time of year, when they like to think about their memories of the past.”

Miracle on 34th Street is best known as a 1947 hit comedy-drama film by George Seaton about the chaos that ensues when a Macy’s Santa Claus claims to be the real thing. The STS production is based on Seaton’s adaption for radio, presented as part of the Lux Radio Hour. Adding to the fun will be the recreation of vintage-style radio ads for Phoenicia area businesses.

STS regular Alan Shevlo is coming out of retirement to play Santa, with Faye Storms in the role of the cynical department store manager, originally played by Maureen O’Hara. The production, directed by Linda Burkhardt, also includes cast members Tom Alfano, Kailee Cornelison, David Dancyger, Ann Davies, Erin Giuditta, Bridget Harkin, Burr Hubbell, Jeremy McLaughlin, and Amos Newcombe.

In the spirit of the season, and to encourage children’s exposure to the magic of live theater, STS is offering a price of $5 for all children age 12 or under, accompanied by an adult. General admission tickets are priced at $20, students and seniors $18. Shows are December 2-18, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For reservations, call (845) 688-2279. Tickets can also be bought at the theater, located at 10 Church Street, Phoenicia.

As Christmas approaches, check these pages for details of events occurring in Phoenicia and Chichester on Saturday, December 17. The festivities will begin with a party at Phoenicia Library and the traditional STS Playhouse free family Christmas show, both starting at noon. The Empire State Railway Museum will hold a party with model trains and a real Santa, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The former Chichester Yoga, now under new management as the Catskills Yoga House, will offer a shamanic solstice journey, also on December 17, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Using simple qigong, drumming and visualization, participants will be guided in a journey to their own center by poet and shamanic practitioner Michael Brownstein. The cost for the workshop is $20. For details, see

Catskills Yoga House will also present a New Year’s Day gong bath with Ricarda O’Conner. Relax deeply to the tones of giant gongs, January 1, 4:30-6 p.m., $25.



Shandaken holiday schedule

All events are free and held in Phoenicia, unless otherwise noted.


Saturday, December 3

12-5 p.m., Holiday Craft and Gift Show, St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church Parish Hall, east end of Main Street
5 p.m., tree-lighting and caroling, Ice Cream Station, 76 Main Street \
6 p.m., holiday party, Phoenicia Firehouse, Route 214 and Tremper Avenue\
8 p.m., Miracle on 34th Street, STS Playhouse, 10 Church Street, $5 children, $20 adults, $18 students and seniors. (Presented Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, December 2-18.)


Sunday, December 4

12-4 p.m., Holiday Craft and Gift Show, St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church Parish Hall, east end of Main Street. Visit from Santa and his elves, noon-2 p.m.

Saturday, December 17

12 noon, Free family Christmas show, STS Playhouse, 10 Church Street
12 noon, Party at Phoenicia Library, 48 Main Street
1-4 p.m., Party at Empire State Railway Museum, 70 Lower High Street
4-5:30 p.m., “Going Inside: A Shamanic Journey to Your Center,” with Michael Brownstein, Catskills Yoga House, 536 Route 214, Chichester, $20


Sunday, January 1

4:30-6 p.m., New Year’s Day gong bath with Ricarda O’Conner, Catskills Yoga House, 536 Route 214, Chichester, $25.



– Violet Snow