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NARROWSBURG, NY — Supervisor Carol Ropke Wingert opened the August 12 Tusten Town Board meeting with, “Let me just say that this incident was totally unexpected; it caught us all by surprise. Steps have been taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Wingert was referring to a “political statement” punctuated by public nudity during a dance segment at the July 28 Riverfest celebration of music, art and ecology on Main Street in Narrowsburg. Performed by Lady B and the Lava Dance Company, a Brooklyn-based feminist acrobatic dance troupe, the segment was purported to be a tribute to goddess mythology that involved performers exposing their breasts.
Parents of young children who witnessed bare-chested women on stage at the festival complained to Riverfest’s sponsor, the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) and the Tusten Town Board. Nudity was the last thing they expected to see at the typically family-friendly event, they said.
DVAA Executive Director Ariel Shanberg, present at the meeting, said his organization was caught completely off-guard by the incident. As a result, the DVAA has revised its Riverfest performance guidelines to include an express prohibition of nudity and political stances.
Wingert noted that public nudity, though not illegal in New York State, is illegal in the Town of Tusten.
Although half a dozen witnesses to the incident recalled the nudity, none could say what the “political statement” was about. One Riverfest attendee who left immediately after the River Dog Parade, missing the incident completely, bemoaned his early departure. Another said he saw the incident but assumed it was the latest trend in performance art. Sullivan County Legislature District One candidate Robert Doherty said he saw it and thought to himself, “Cool. This would never happen in Bethel.”
Before moving on to less scandalous business, Floyd “Lurch” Campfield asked the board to take another precaution at future Riverfest celebrations. He suggested placing a fire truck, town highway dump truck, or another large vehicle on the east side of the bridge in Narrowsburg, to prevent anyone from purposefully driving through Main Street crowds. Said Wingert, “Good idea. We will.”