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December 18, 2014
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The Catskills: Centuries of artistic expression ...and still going strong

Lynyrd Skynyrd as he appeared on the main stage at Bethel Woods.
TRR photo by Jonathan Fox


While Woodstock, NY and the music festival that bore its name are not one and the same, it’s possible that the confusion enhances both sectors. The fresh mountain air, scenic vistas and spectacular waterways continue to attract those seeking an escape from city life, be it for a day, a month, or a lifetime. Folks from all walks of life can be found throughout the region, but the arts community has never flagged. Not unlike the hippies, many of the farms have gone, but new ones—smaller, specialized, artisanal farms—have begun to spring up, and while many of the artists have never left, new ones arrive daily and now call the Catskills home. Music fills the air, art galleries abound and writers write, expanding on the rich history that laid the groundwork for a future that is bright and beautiful.

Bethel Woods continues to grow, building on what was, with a keen eye on the future. The Museum at Bethel Woods, which has a permanent exhibit celebrating the story of the sixties and the Woodstock experience, also showcases a film and speaker series and rotating outdoor sculpture collections. The adjoining Event Gallery presents intimate concerts and family-friendly events coupled with educational programs. The Pavilion Stage, which overlooks the original concert site, features world class acts that perform outdoors, and seats 15,000 music lovers, whether under the Pavillion or sprawled on the expansive lawns. Major artists in the world of rock, classical, country and jazz have graced the stage, including Bob Dylan, Tim McGraw, Elton John and the New York Philharmonic. In addition to music, the arts center presents a month-long Harvest Festival on the grounds showcasing the work of every type of creative genius and exemplifies the ongoing tradition of a flourishing artists’ retreat—the Catskills.