Friday, September 5, 2014

Town-wide Living Museum in New Lebanon

BEHOLD! New Lebanon, Columbia County’s New Museum of
Contemporary Rural American Life, Announces Schedule for Second Weekend
Wide Range of Activities Spans Agricultural, Gastronomical,
Mechanical, Literary, Crafts, and Automotive Interests
NEW LEBANON, N.Y., Sept. 5, 2014 -- BEHOLD! New Lebanon, a new type of living museum that celebrates and explores contemporary rural American life, today announced the schedule for its next weekend of activities, Sept. 12-14. Located in this rural Columbia County community in upstate New York, BEHOLD! New Lebanon is a museum without walls, comprising a wide –and variable-- range of venues and guides representing rural America as it exists today.
The Sept. 12-14 activities include:
  • The Universal Dance of Peace, at Abode of the Message
  • Speed Demons: Behind the Scenes at the Lebanon Valley Speedway with the owner
  • What You Auto  Know About Your Car
  • Movement Is Art: George Rickey’s Majestic Sculptures
  • Gemstones Demystified, Pearls Renewed
  • Learning to See: the Secret to Hunting
  • Working dogs: Johnson Family Border Collies at Work
  • Grandfather, Make Me a Truck
  • Stuffed (sausage, that is), observe and chow down afterwards
  • A Good Read first time novelist and librarian Jeannie Bogino reads from Rock Angel
  • Hitching the Horse to the Plow
Over the course of four weekends between now and early November, more than 50 country guides invite visitors into their homes and work spaces, where they practice cooking, farming, cattle raising, automobile racing and mechanics, furniture-making, and much more. The guides are not costumed docents recalling old-world skills, they are actual townspeople. 
Details of the Sept. 12-14 presentations:
  • The musicians, members and friends of the Abode of the Message, the Universal Order of Sufis dance for peace. The simple steps are done in a round; the music and song is based on chants found in a wide variety of religious traditions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, American Indian, etc.) The point is for visitors to join with friends and family in this expression of hope for world peace. 
  •  Long-time owner Howard Commander takes visitors on a walk behind the scenes of the famed Lebanon Valley Speedway. Visitors will learn how the track works, how scores are kept, how cars are built. They can examine the cars and meet some of the drivers.
  • For visitors who have ever felt helpless in front of their car (not to mention friend and family) when it is on the fritz, this is their hour. Bud Godfroy, New Lebanon’s Go-to Guy for all things cars, will demonstrate the basics that all car owners need to know.
  • Visitors may tour the rarely opened studio and outside sculpture garden of the famed kinetic artist George Rickey with his artist son, Phillip. They can watch as the sculptures move – even slightly – in homage to the wind. A unique, close-up experience with magnificent structures that are maintained in positions all over the world. 
  • New Lebanon’s jeweler and jewelry designer, Heather Van Ort offers an overview of gemstones and then walks visitors through simple repairs to a necklace or pin so it can be worn again (or given away). Visitors are welcome to bring broken jewelry.
  • New Lebanon postmaster Melissa Engenbrodt shows visitors how to track and spot an animal, when to shoot, when not to, how hunters feel about the land and the animals around them. All without a gun.
  • Often called in to help rid ponds and farms of geese in a humane way, the Johnson family will demonstrate their technique. Using poultry and sheep, they will show how they train the dogs to do this and to herd all kinds of animals
  • Dairy farmer, auctioneer and town leader Larry Benson demonstrates how to make an heirloom truck from a piece of wood. A hands-on opportunity for visitors, who leave with a memorable gift for someone of any age.
  • Cattle breeder Cynthia Creech and sausage maker Phoebe Young show visitors what goes into making a sausage. Visitors can sample the New Lebanon Baloney, a local delicacy. And then optionally join them for a dinner of sausage and sides drawn from local farms (additional fee for dinner).
  • New Lebanon’s much-loved librarian Jeannie Bogino reads from her forthcoming novel and discusses writing it.
  • Evan Thaler-Null and Sarah Steadman, who run Abode Farm CSA, take visitors on a tour and show how they use their Belgian draft-horses to cultivate 7-acres of organic vegetables using a blend of traditional and modern techniques to grow healthy soil and crops.
The museum is the idea of historian and social activist Ruth J. Abram, founding President of Manhattan’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which honors America's immigrants. A resident of New Lebanon, Abram brought the Behold! New Lebanon concept to regional residents, who responded enthusiastically with ideas and an outpouring of support. 
These values include the importance of conservation, historic preservation, family and community life, farm-to-table cooking, and other contemporary ideals.
Generous donors have made it possible to offer reasonably-priced ticket packages. Donors include Judith Grunberg, Chuck and Deborah Royce, Mike Benson, Francis Greenberger, Monte Wasch, and Robert Webber, as well as organizations and businesses such as Columbia County Tourism, Hudson Valley Greenway Communities, Berkshire Bank, Hudson River Bank & Trust Co. Foundation, Lebanon Valley Speedway, Shed Man, Stewart Shops, photographer Uli Rose and personal weather forecasting app Poncho.
The series of weekend presentations continues on Oct. 10-13, and concludes Oct. 31-Nov. 2. More information can be found at
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