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A day at the (drag) races

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For something completely different, the past few days have been chockablock with a wide range of activities, including art shows, awards ceremonies, 5K runs, touch-a-trucks, beer barrel races and even a drag queen or two.

I didn’t get to them all, in part because of scheduling conflicts, but also because of the intense heat, which held me in its sweaty-handed grip, threatening to cause a personal meltdown of epic proportions.
In addition, the never-ending barrage of all things Woodstock 50 is nearing a crescendo and, as I live in the Town of Bethel, NY, nigh on impossible to avoid. Oh, sure, I’m looking forward to the celebration, which includes concerts with Santana, Fogerty and Ringo (did I miss The Beatles’ set in ‘69?) at Bethel Woods, what is sure to be a memorable days-long party at Yasgur’s Farm and another fantastic “Hippie Thanksgiving” at Hector’s, aka the “Original Woodstock Watering Hole.”

After all of this hoopla has died down, I’m gonna’ be craving a nap.

First out of the gate are the drag queens, who are dancing in the aisles at the Forestburgh Playhouse for a production of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” which is playing to packed houses through this weekend. Based on the 1994 film, the action takes place in Australia, where a small band of wildly flamboyant characters trek through the desert on a bus named Priscilla (you heard me). They encounter homophobia, experience true love and face parenthood, all the while teetering on six-inch heels and performing more than 25 instantly recognizable tunes, including “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” “MacArthur Park” and “I Love the Nightlife” in full-on, out-of-this world technicolor “dragtastic” delight.

If insanely imaginative costumes and disco hits are your groove thing, run—don’t walk—to the playhouse and catch this tribute to “extravaganza” before the bus leaves town and hippies take over Sullivan County.

Artists Joan Glase, Rocky Pinciotti and William Landau posed for me beneath Pinciotti’s neon sculpture titled “Between Two Worlds” at the Nutshell Arts Center in Lake Huntington, NY. | TRR photo by Jonathan Charles Fox

Eschewing the stilettos hidden in the back of my closet (it’s a long story), I chose instead to slip into a pair of manly sneakers and made my way (Wonder Dog in tow) to the Nutshell Arts Center in Lake Huntington, NY, which beckoned passers-by with a sign that reads “Woodstock 50 Art Show.”

“There’s that word again,” I whimpered to the dog, who cocked one ear but held her gaze on ducks paddling in the water, undoubtedly hoping that they wanted to play. Once inside, I recognized many artists in attendance discussing their “process,” while enjoying the convivial atmosphere of the opening night reception and potluck. The paintings, sculpture and mixed media art offers something for everyone, but save for Nutshell proprietor Juan Rigal’s beautiful “Peace Dove” (www.sullivancatskills.com) adorning the exterior, I saw nothing that had anything whatsoever to do with Woodstock, 50th anniversary or otherwise. “Where’s the Woodstock theme?” I asked artist-in-his-own-right Rocky Pinciotti who appeared nonplussed. “Look up,” he said, motioning toward the ceiling, where his neon sculpture, titled “Between Two Worlds” was suspended above the crowd. “Does that count?”

“No,” I said laughing, “But I love it!” Taking my leave, I promised to spread the word that the Nutshell Arts Center is alive and thriving and that this cool exhibit (Woodstock or otherwise) is on view through the end of the month and well worth (IMHO) a stop on the  #SullivanCatskillsDoveTrail.

“Look, girl, there’s another one!” I exclaimed, spying artist Robin Nervegna’s beautifully hand-painted dove on Route 52 in Jeffersonville, NY. “If I want to photograph them all, I had better get on it! Meanwhile,” I said to the pooch, who blatantly ignored me, “Let’s go to the races!” I had already slept through the Sullivan West Bulldogs 5K run and somehow missed the remote-control-car drag race, but managed to get to Jeffersonville’s Backyard Park in time to catch the super-fun beer barrel race at noon, immediately followed by the make-your-own-boat race down Callicoon Creek. I spent the lull in between to visit the “Touch-A-Truck” and check out the face-painting booth and schmooze with Jeff-resident Barbara Winfield, out for the day representing the award-winning River Reporter. “You look tired,” Barbara said, noting the bags under my bleary eyes. “When are you gonna’ take a break?”

“February,” I replied, heaving a sigh, realizing that I’d be gone before the duck race, slated for 2 p.m. Meanwhile, there’s more racing around in my future. Porchfest is coming to Callicoon, Gilbert and Sullivan will be in Narrowsburg soon and the Reel Harmony Songwriter Festival is this Saturday at the Roscoe Beer Co. celebrating (uh huh) Woodstock 50. On your mark, get set…

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