History

Schoharie County Sunshine Fair


2015 marks the 139th year of the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair, running from August 1st through August 8th on South Grand Street in Cobleskill, New York. The following photos were taken on opening day with a FujiFilm X-T1 mirrorless camera.

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Categories: Celebration, Entertainment, History, Outdoors, Photography | Tags: ,

Thoroughbred Racing at Saratoga


One of the best places to visit in New York State during the summer is the Saratoga Race Course. It is a time honored tradition for many and recently for me through photography and the not-for-profit organization, the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm. FSSF was established to preserve the thoroughbred racing legacy of the Sanford family, whose local Amsterdam farm Hurricana, bred, trained and raced thoroughbred horses for competition at Saratoga. Although most of the original farm is now commercial space, the group would like to save the remaining buildings to create a park where tourists could stop and learn about our rich history in thoroughbred racing.

I first photographed the Saratoga Race Course in the ’80s and several times last season, including the newly established Sanford Exhibit at the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Breakfast at the track is a great way to see the thoroughbreds warm up without the crowds and the cost of admission. Trackside parking for breakfast opens at 6:45am and although you pay the parking fee ($12 weekdays, $15 weekends), the money is refunded if you exit the parking area by 10am.

The following photos were taken Saturday, July 25, 2015, at the 101st running of the Sanford Stakes. The trophy was presented by Landine (Sanford) Manigault and her son Pierre to horse #11 Uncle Vinny, trainer T. Pletcher, jockey J. Velasquez .

The #4 horse, Magna Light actually came in 1st place was was knocked down to 3rd after a formal complaint and controversial technical disqualification. Sanford descendant Landine Manigault felt badly for the owners and trainers of the disqualified Magna Light and asked me to take a photo with one of Magna Light’s owners to signify their win anyway.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Entertainment, Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, historic preservation, History, Outdoors | Tags: , , , ,

DATMOD Dress Rehearsal


On Tuesday I wrote about the Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama that will take place the first two weekends in August at Gelston Castle Estate in upstate New York. Last evening I was invited by Producer Kyle Jenks to photograph a few of the actors in costume. The rehearsals take place at the United Methodist Church on Golf Course Road in Amsterdam. Pastor Carl Chamberlin has graciously opened the doors of his church to the cast as well as other community groups interested in the Arts.

The costumes really brought the drama to life and the grounds of the United Methodist Church are very similar to those of the Gelston Castle Estate where the drama will be performed in August. As the actors put on their costumes, they immediately became the characters from the novel.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Entertainment, History, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , ,

FSSF Open House 2015


Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is a not for profit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Sanford Thoroughbred Training Farm in the Town of Amsterdam, New York. Each year the organization sponsors several events to help educate local residents about the rich history of thoroughbred racing right here in our own backyard.

You can read more about our local legacy on the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm website as well as previous articles on the Grove Street Photographer.

The Sanford Legacy  Sanford Heirs Visit Hurricana – Sanford Stakes Centennial

The 2015 Friends of Sanford Stud Farm Open House was especially nice this year because of the seven Percheron horses that occupied the stables, enabling local residents to interact with these beautiful animals up close and personal. Many thanks to the members of the New York Percheron Association for bringing their horses to the Sanford Stables for the Friends event. Dozens of vendors, raffles, a car show and a bouncy house made this a fun occasion for all ages.

FSSF is also sponsoring a series of outdoor movies at their Tessiero Road and Rt 30 location starting with Field of Dreams tonight at 8:30PM.

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Categories: Entertainment, Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, historic preservation, History, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , ,

Amsterdam’s Walter Elwood Museum


The Rao Center at 100 Church Street in Amsterdam, New York is home to the Walter Elwood Museum. This eclectic collection is part of Amsterdam’s history. Walter Elwood was an educator in the Amsterdam school district in the early 1900s. He traveled worldwide and brought back interesting artifacts to teach his students about world and natural history. This extensive collection was donated to the school district and an organization was formed to help care for and display this collection.

Ann Peconie is the Executive Director of the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley. She and the museum board have done an excellent job displaying this collection for public view. Robert Going, Esq and Vice President of the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley was kind enough to give me a tour of the museum on Saturday during the museum sponsored Amsterdam Farmers’ Market.

For more information about the collection as well as museum hours, please click on the above link.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Art, historic preservation, History | Tags: ,

A Somber Occasion


The devastating Nepal quake last weekend has left over five thousand dead, thousands more unaccounted for, and hundreds of people stranded 20,000 feet on Mount Everest.  Reports state the death toll could rise to over 10,000 people. The earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, has obliterated homes, ancient temples, and historical landmarks.  Nepal is seeing devastation on levels never before imagined, according to reports.

The Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization held a memorial service this morning, for those killed in the Nepal earthquake, at the Western Supreme Buddha Temple in the Town of Glen, New York. This was not the usual celebration held by the Chinese Buddhists as the thought of the death and destruction in Nepal weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of the Buddhist monks and students. You could see it in their faces as they entered the temple in a funeral procession.  As Elise translated the message of Buddhist leader, Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi, I felt the same wave of sadness and concern. A gong sounded the start, middle and end of the service. In memory of those who died in Nepal and to help those who were injured, the monks and students chanted a 100 word mantra to the beat of a wooden percussion instrument carved in the image of a fish. Through prayer and meditation the participants sent to the departed what they believe to be a part of themselves attained through merit or good deeds to help their spirits pass on to be reborn in a better life.

Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi emphasized the cultural importance of Nepal, its rich history and influence on the practice of Buddhism in our world today. He announced that the WPHO will be donating $200,000 HK dollars through its Hong Kong affiliate to help with Nepal recovery efforts. In addition the WPHO will be purchasing $300,000 HK dollars worth of Dharma instruments and Buddhist statues from Nepal to help it recover economically.

The service ended with the same orderly procession that it began with, the WPHO members reserving this day for prayer and meditation.

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Categories: History, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

Amsterdam’s Failed World Trade Center Memorial


City officials never told new Riverlink Park concessionaire it was there, in fact they don’t want anyone to know about a piece of the fallen World Trade Center that sits hidden near the fence at Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park.  It was supposed to serve as a memorial to those who died in the tragic terrorist attack on American soil savagely killing over 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.

Robert von Hasseln, Amsterdam’s Administrator of Community and Economic Development who also holds the position of City Historian, wanted to make sure that Amsterdamians never forget that day when the hijackers took over American Airline flight 11 that changed course in the air over Amsterdam, New York, eventually crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Von Hasseln arranged to have a surviving column of the World Trade Center’s north tower transported to the City of Amsterdam to be memorialized in a fitting presentation at Riverlink Park.

The 11,000 pound, 18 foot column was unceremoniously dumped on the East end of Riverlink Park four years ago. There was supposed to be a monument built around the erect column with a public dedication ceremony in Spring of 2012. On December 15, 2011, Amsterdam’s Mayor Thane described the proposed memorial to Recorder reporter Jarrett Carroll;

The cement column will be planted upright into the ground once the ground is workable again. We will be mounting it as an obelisk on the section of land between the cafe and the blacktop, There will be a circular mediation area surrounding it with trees, explanatory signage and benches. It will be a strong symbol that will serve as both a visual and abstract representation.

The memorial was never built, the public dedication ceremony never happened. The World Trade Center artifact remains where it was dumped four years ago, hidden behind Riverlink Park’s event tent.

This serves as another failed promise of the Thane administration, a disgrace to those who died and a slap in the face to those Firefighters, Police Officers, Paramedics and volunteers who worked so hard to rescue victims of that attack. It is also an insult to my fellow Veterans who joined the service after 9/11, sacrificing their lives and limbs to fight the war on terror.

It is disingenuous of Mayor Ann Thane to say this project was not forgotten and always on the priority list. That is all just political spin. The truth is, the project was tossed around like a hot potato with nobody wanting to take ownership and get it done. It went from von Hasseln to the Veterans Commission, to Joe Isabel, back to von Hasseln and was finally dumped on the Recreation Director in December of 2014. There are no set plans, designs or even a location to erect the memorial. I wrote three blog articles about this situation on the Grove Street Photographer over the past four years, the last one picked up by WCSS radio and then it went viral. I am very pleased to see the WTC memorial finally getting the attention it deserves. There is something wrong with local government when you have to shame politicians into doing their jobs. Mayor Ann Thane should acknowledge responsibility for this failure and apologize sincerely to the citizens of Amsterdam and the relatives of those who died in the WTC bombing on 9/11.

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Categories: Amsterdam, historic amsterdam league, historic preservation, History, Politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

The Sanford Legacy


The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York previewed their latest exhibit, the Sanford Legacy, to the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, select guests and the press on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. The exhibit, researched and designed by museum curator Victoria Tokarowski of Fultonville, showcases the significant contribution of Amsterdam’s Sanford family to the sport of thoroughbred racing. The exhibit opens to the public March 25, 2015 and runs through 2016. Tuesday’s event was attended by Sanford family descendent Pierre Manigault from Charleston, South Carolina, Son of Sanford jockey Louis Hildebrandt, Sam Hildebrandt, Montgomery County Legislator Barbara Wheeler, Town of Amsterdam Supervisor Tom DiMezza, Friends of Sanford Stud Farm President Scott Friers and several members of FSSF as well as the media. For more information just click on this link: National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame _SKR7989_SKR7991_SKR7998_SKR7994_SKR7999_SKR8002_SKR8008_SKR8012_SKR8019_SKR8020_SKR8021_SKR8026_SKR8028a_SKR8029_SKR8030_SKR8031_SKR8033_SKR8034_SKR8035_SKR8037_SKR8036_SKR8038_SKR8040

Categories: Amsterdam, historic preservation, History, Sanford Stud Farm | Tags: , , , , ,

The Next Mayor of Amsterdam, Mike Villa


The Clubhouse of Amsterdam’s Municipal Golf Course, run by Laura Elmendorf, hosted the first social gathering for City Amsterdam Mayoral candidate Michael Villa last night. In attendance were about 150 people representing many generations, occupations and political parties. This show of force was a large sign that the citizens of Amsterdam want a change in leadership. Mike Villa believes he is the candidate with the leadership experience to make that change. Introduced by Amsterdam businesswoman and Recorder VP of Sales and Marketing, Pat Beck, Villa spoke of his plan to bring much-needed leadership, integrity and fiscal responsibility back to our city. He wants our citizens to once again take pride in the fact they live in Amsterdam, New York. Mike Villa was both grateful and overwhelmed by the large number of people supporting his candidacy.

You can contact Mike Villa or give to his campaign through his website, Mike Villa For Mayor.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, History, Politics | Tags: , , ,

NYCLU knocks Queen Ann off her throne


In a strongly worded response, attorneys from the New York Civil Liberties Union issue an ultimatum to City of Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane. The letter, dated September 22, 2014, advises the executive to rescind the employee gag order issued on August 6, 2014. The gag order attempts to restrict employee communication with members of the Common Council. The NYCLU gives the mayor 7 days to take action. The NYCLU has successfully sued other municipalities for similar behavior and cites State and Federal Court decisions supporting employees 1st Amendment right to free speech.

New York Civil Liberties Union response

Mayor Ann Thane’s employee gag order

Queen Ann of Amsterdam reading the NYCLU response

Queen Ann of Amsterdam reading the NYCLU response

Categories: Amsterdam, History, Human Rights, Law, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

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