Kids’ Almanac (10/4-10/11)

(Photos by Dion Ogust)

15 Reasons Why Our Family Adores Forsyth Nature Center

Mark DeDea
Mark is the brilliant, artistic, hilarious, creative and experienced caretaker of the Forsyth Nature Center. He also appreciates puns, like “Wanna go on a picnic? Alpaca lunch.”

This pot-bellied pig is an absolute love with a huge fanbase.

The critters residing at Forsyth are able to be seen by all sizes of people. The more time our family spends at Forsyth watching and interacting with them, the more we connect with them as individuals. Take Mario the goat: This dude is all personality.


Visitors are permitted to feed the animals! Feeding them is just one more way for animals and humans to see and hear each other, so when you visit, bring some carrots, apples, lettuce, spinach, greens and/or plain popcorn.
My own children have been visiting Forsyth since they were toddlers, and they still enjoy going as teens. Forsyth will always feel like “their” animal home base. I imagine some of you have been going for decades!

Our family’s interest in Forsyth led to more involvement, including my serving on the Friends of Forsyth Nature Center for awhile, and becoming trained tour guides with the kids, sharing our enthusiasm with guests of all ages and witnessing kids and adults being as excited as we are when a peacock fans its tail. Being a part of the team for events like the Fall Festival (coming up on Sunday, October 7!)

Mark is a knowledgeable birder, and his fascination with them got me into learning about them myself. Bring your bird questions to him; go on a bird walk along the trail near the playground; but, better yet, start by just watching birds through your window or in your yard, and see what you notice. The birds by the Center entrance can be very entertaining.

Why is it so mesmerizing to watch Shelby eat? I don’t know, but come see for yourself.

These playful creatures are hysterical, from their romps around the yard to claiming space where another goat is standing to stealing another goat’s intended treat as you stick it through the fence.

The Forsyth Nature Center has no entry fee, free parking and is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.

FNC walks the talk, modeling responsible environmental practices with permeable pavers, a solar array, compostable toilets and more.

Mark likes to call them “necklaces.” Reactions to snakes tend to be mixed, but I have witnessed people briefly overcome their terror when it’s on his neck.

Bring your phone and listen to the awesome audio tour as you navigate the history, animals, plants and other interesting bits about Forsyth. Want a preview? You can listen at home! Check out the link on the website at
With one parking spot, you can visit the Forsyth Nature Center, get to a bathroom, run around the grassy fields between the Center and the playground, hang out at the playground, hike the trail behind the playground.

Seated right in the heart of Kingston, next to Dietz Stadium, the Forsyth Nature Center is an easy stop for a quick nature break during errands (I mean seeing the animals, but like I mentioned, there are also bathrooms); or take your time and stay awhile to recharge. Eat lunch at a picnic table in the Center, take in the sights and sounds around you and exhale.

The Forsyth Nature Center is located at Forsyth Park at 125 Lucas Avenue in Kingston and open year-round. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Columbus Day) are Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays/Sundays/holidays. Winter hours (October through May) are Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays/Sundays/holidays. To become an FNC member, make a donation, volunteer or learn more about the facility or the fantastic, very family-friendly annual Fall Festival on October 7, visit

“Did you know…”
Stewart’s Shops is permitting combined purchase cards now! So take that stack of each individual store’s cards to any shop, and have them put all of your stamps on one card! Thanks, Stewart’s!

River-to-Ridge Trail now open in New Paltz
Think walking in a meadow, but without itchy ankles. Easy parking at the trailhead, dancing grasses in the breeze, that seasonal scent and a flat gravel path deceive my senses into thinking I’m further away from town than I really am. Where am I? At the new River-to-Ridge Trail in New Paltz!

Thanks to the Open Space Institute, we now have a new spot near the Village for pedestrians, equestrians, jogging strollers and…maybe even wheelchairs? Can anyone share your experience on that? I can’t wait to cross-country ski here! Cyclists of all ages love the inviting scenery and wide pathways, too. You can even rent bikes for the entire family right on-site: (845) 594-6353, Check out the cool new bike-repair stand in the parking lot.

River-to-Ridge is mostly flat terrain with one slight incline (nothing like Cardiac Hill to Lake Awosting), easy visibility and a decent loop. Or go longer and turn right at the top of that first loop to go down the hill and cross Butterville Road onto Pine Road, where you can connect with Lenape Lane (functional but not officially open yet). When the entire project is finished, it will be a six-mile loop.

Need an infusion of nature, either alone or with your crew? Looking for alternatives to the rail trail? Wishing for a walk or bike ride with easy, open access? Whether you’re Lycra-laden or in your Sunday best, I encourage you to explore the River-to-Ridge Trail. Consider going this weekend, Saturday, October 6, where the 2018 Wallkill River Festival is being held. Free parking and the trailhead are located at 41 Springtown Road in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 224-3744 or visit

Take the kids
Family events hand-picked
by Erica Chase-Salerno,

The Blessing of the Animals is a unique opportunity to bring your leashed or crated pet to church in honor of St. Francis’ Day.
Thursday, Oct. 4, 6 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 7, after 8 a.m. & 10:30 a.m. services
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
163 Main St.
New Paltz
(845) 255-5098

The Touch a Truck Festival gives kids a chance to check out over 20 types of vehicles, along with a variety of family activities, for a suggested donation of only $5 per family.
Friday, Oct. 5, 4-7 p.m., $5
Main St., Margaretville
(845) 586-4177

The O+ Festival in Kingston kicks off an entire weekend of music, art, family activities and more, with a parade theme of “Shadow.” Step-off happens at 5:30 p.m. from the Kingston Library to the LGBTQ Center on Wall Street, with lots of fun to follow throughout the weekend. See the link for ticket information.
Friday, Oct. 5, 5:30 p.m.
Parade route: 56 Franklin St. to 300 Wall St.


The Wallkill River Festival highlights this special river that flows south to north through 48 municipalities. Enjoy hands-on demos, children’s activities, live music, great food and support for cleaning up the Wallkill. Entry is by a $5 suggested donation.
Saturday, Oct. 6 (rain date Oct. 7)
Noon- 5 p.m.
River-to-Ridge Trailhead
41 Springtown Rd.
New Paltz

Dalmatian Day provides fire safety education in the most adorable way: dogs! Free children’s and family activities, but for even more fun, go inside. Museum admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for kids aged 3+, free for under 3, $25 for two adults and two kids.
Saturday, Oct. 6
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
FASNY Museum of Firefighting
117 Harry Howard Ave.
(518) 822-1875

“Secrets in the Garden Fairy House” begins with storytelling hourly from 11:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., followed by a quest around the grounds to uncover Locust Grove’s secrets. Tickets cost $8 per person, free for kids under 4. No reservations are required.
Saturday-Monday, Oct. 6-8
11 a.m.-3 p.m., $8
Locust Grove Estate
2683 South Rd.
(845) 454-4500

Community Build offers teens ages 16 and up and adults a chance to volunteer to work on a Habitat for Humanity house project in Poughkeepsie. No experience is required.
Saturday, Oct. 6
9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
45 Smith Street
(845) 475-9336

The USAC Youth Bouldering Local Competition challenges participants on a fun technical wall set by some of the best area climbers. For schedule and pricing, see link below.
Saturday, Oct. 6
9 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Gravity Vault
6 Neptune Rd.
(845) 462-1920

Study Abroad Presentation shares an Art Effect alumna’s experiences with peers, including personal growth, academic choices and future careers, as well as resources to help make it happen.
Saturday, Oct. 6
5-6 p.m.
The Art Effect
45 Pershing Ave.
(845) 471-7477

The Fall Festival is good old-fashioned fun with great live music, lots of children’s activities, delicious food and of course, animals! Admission is free.
Sunday, Oct. 7
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Forsyth Nature Center
157 Lucas Ave.

Youth and Family Printmaking is your shot to create art with your crew, with a different project every Sunday through December 16. Reserve to ensure your spot. The fee is $10 per class.
Sunday, Oct. 7
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
PUF Studios
8 North Cherry St.
(845) 485-3287

The Puppet Maker Lab is a one-day felt puppetmaking event for kids ages 5 to 7 years, consisting of various stations to make eyes, nose, mouth and body for your creation. The cost is $5 per child/adult pair, plus museum admission.
Monday, Oct. 8
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
$5 + $9 museum admission (under one year free)
Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum
75 North Water St.
(845) 471-0589

Kids’ Day at the Haunted Mansion means pint-sized thrills like pumpkin-painting and trick-or-treating with friendly monsters during daylight hours. Admission costs $13 for adults, $11 for kids 12 and under.
Monday, Oct. 8
12-3 p.m.
Haunted Mansion
85 Sheafe Rd.
Wappingers Falls

Nature Journaling can enhance outdoor experiences for all ages by sketching and writing observations. The workshop if free and open to all ages, with a limit of 20 participants.
Monday, Oct. 8
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center
5096 Route 28
Mount Tremper