Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Attendees sample the vintages and varieties at Catskill Fortnightly Club’s Wine & Cheese Tasting Festival on Saturday. The annual event ­ a fundraiser for playground equipment at Elliott Park ­ was held at Beattie-Powers Place, the village of Catskill’s historic showpiece. (Jim Planck/Hudson-Catskill Newspapers)

Wine and cheese fest shines yet again
By Jim Planck

Hudson-Catskill NewspapersPublished: Sunday, May 9, 2010 2:13 AM EDTCATSKILL ­

The Catskill Fortnightly Club’s Fourth Annual Wine & Cheese Tasting Festival at the historic Beattie-Powers Place on Saturday gave ample evidence of the event’s success and why it grows in attendance every year.This year’s goal for the yearly fundraiser was to generate revenue towards purchasing and installing new playground equipment at Elliott Park, and festival co-chair Amy von Scholz said the day boded well.

“It’s a fabulous event,” she said “and the weather is on our side, despite threatening earlier in the day.”Von Scholz said attendance for the popular event grows every year.

“Absolutely,” she said. “It’s not quite double (each time), but we certainly get a 30 percent increase every year, approximately.”

Based on attendance flow at mid-afternoon, von Scholz said everything was looking promising.“I’m expecting at least 200 people, maybe 250,” she said, “which is what we hoped for.”

“And that’s $20 a head,” she said, “and that’s good money.”“If we could raise $5,000 this year for the playground, that was my earmark, and we’ll see if we make it,” she said.“And the Fortnightly women worked so hard, and the vendors were so impressed,” she said. “They’re so pleased to come every year.”Von Scholz said planning for next year also goes on during the festival.

“We always take notes for special needs,” she said.“Every other year we’ve had a fruit tier,” von Scholz said, adding ­ based on the number of requests for it ­ “so that’ll be coming back next year.”

Festival committee co-chair Gwen Seeley ­ the other half of the team ­ said she, too, was pleased with the day.“It’s excellent, and we’re very, very happy with it,” said Seeley.Of the offerings on hand for attendees, Seeley said they were numerous.

“Besides the wine and cheese,” ­ of which there were two exhibit-sized wine and cheese vendor tasting tents ­ “there is a variety of other food vendors: Dutch desserts, olive oils, sausage, spaghetti sauce, a couple different vendors of honey, and our garden table ­ eggs, flowers ­ anything that is home grown, and a number of assorted craft vendors.”

Additionally, live music by JP & Crooked Toe filled the air outdoors, while balladeer Lex Grey and pianist entertained indoor patrons.

Seeley said the funds raised by the event have only one destination.“All proceeds go to benefit Elliott Park,” she said.“We want to thank everybody,” Seeley said, “all of our sponsors and everybody that came today.”

Carroll Nezich, who is Fortnightly’s chairperson of the Elliott Park Playground Committee, was also on hand, and, like von Scholz and Seeley, expressed her gratitude to those who came and to the assistance of nature.“This is our fourth year,” she confirmed, “and every year it’s getting better and better ­ and the weather is holding out for us,” she added.

“Beattie-Powers is very gracious to us,” Nezich said.“We’ve used their facilities for other smaller, private functions, like our end-of-the-year party,” she said, and added that when it was determined a spring fundraiser was needed four years ago to help town of Catskill parks, it just seemed like a natural to pair with Beattie-Powers for the event.

Nezich explained that in the first year, funds raised were shared among several of the town’s park facilities, but that since then the decision was made to focus on the Elliott Park playground as a single goal.“We knew that Elliott Park was in major disrepair,” she said.

Nezich said the original playground was put in by Fortnightly near the end of the 1980s, adding that the decision to now replace it ­ based on its condition ­ is thus an appropriate choice for the group’s efforts.

As all in the Catskill community know, the 73-year-old organization has a visible record of helping the community, and has certainly done its share of civic work over the years, and continues to do so.

Another of its annual events is the group’s Festival of Trees ­ held each winter and now in its 15th year ­ and Nezich said that while its success is shepherded by a seasoned group of veteran
Fortnightly volunteers, the annual Wine & Cheese Festival has, in great part, been embraced by newer members, who have taken it with fervor and success to the public.

Nezich said the effort is no small commitment, and that the group is proud of all involved.“The effort is unbelievable,” she said. “The new members have really stepped up to the plate for it.”

Nezich stressed, however, that in being a member of Fortnightly, all members carry a strong dedication to volunteerism.“All of them work,” she said, “and 99 percent have children, so you have to balance work, family, and civic duty.”

Friends of Beattie-Powers Place President Robert Hoven said working with Fortnightly each year is always a pleasure.“It was easy to do,” he said. “They’re very organized.”

“And it’s a perfect place,” he added. “It’s by the water, and they’re lovely people to do things with.”

“They’re easy people to partner with,” said Hoven, “and everything they do helps the community.”

Catskill Town Supervisor Peter Markou ­ but one of the many folks who attended ­ agreed, and praised the group for its actions.

“It’s a great event for a good cause, for a great organization that does a lot for the community,” Markou said.“I’m sure they’ll do well today,” he said.

***To reach reporter Jim Planck, call 518-943-2100, ext. 3324, or e-mail .


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