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Young at heart


Playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) once famously declared that “youth is wasted on the young,” and I’ve been known to quote his pithy comment on occasion, but nowadays… I wonder. Let’s face it: as kids, we often long to be “grown up,” but upon reaching adulthood some of us wistfully wish that we could turn back time and relive the carefree existence that only childhood can provide. Personally, I’ve struggled with this paradox my entire adult life and was once diagnosed with “Peter Pan Syndrome”—a term coined by pop psychology author Dan Kiley in his book of the same name, subtitled “Men Who Have Never Grown Up.” I don’t recall that doctor’s name (am I losing my long-term memory?), but I do remember taking umbrage. “You say that like it’s a bad thing,” I haughtily responded, never to return.

I think it’s fair to say that all of us, at one time or another, have a desire to escape the shackles of responsibility and feel like a kid again, and I’m grateful that (IMHO) life in the Upper Delaware River region provides that opportunity from time to time, be it the lazy summer days spent at our favorite swimmin’ hole, or the myriad opportunities to take in a street festival, have our face painted like a zebra and enjoy maple cotton candy, lying in the grass watching the clouds scud overhead. Then again, maybe it’s just me.

One thing I do know is that country life is great for kids, and I spent the last few days observing young folks enjoying good clean fun everywhere I travelled, while the dog tugged at her leash to join the fun. Our first stop was in Jeffersonville, NY for the second annual Maple Syrup Festival. Observing the kids enjoying the pony rides and aforementioned face painting, I took a more grown-up approach and sampled syrups infused with a hint of “adult beverages” (www.TreeJuiceMapleSyrup.com) while admiring the baby alpacas (www.buckbrookalpacas.com) with childlike glee and no apologies.

Pausing to enjoy the music (www.facebook.com/littlesparrow) before heading home, I remembered (go figure!) that the Catskill Art Society (CAS) is highlighting young adults in the form of the Sullivan County Art Show, exhibiting the work of high school students from all eight of the county’s districts, plus student work from BOCES. Their website (www.catskillartsociety.org) says, “The show celebrates the creativity of our region’s youth and showcases the diversity of expression across Sullivan County,” and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Paintings, drawings, ceramics, photography, sculpture and textiles fill the entire gallery, and I marveled at the talent that these kids possess. It never ceases to amaze how accomplished our young folks are, and I heartily recommend popping into the show, on display through May 21.

On Sunday, I searched for the Wonder Dog’s little crown, but coming up empty-handed, I gave in and drove her to the Rivoli Theatre in South Fallsburgh to see the 2017 Sullivan County Pageant, whose mission statement says that the pageant is “far from a beauty contest” and that they “encourage the young ladies of Sullivan County to ‘GO MAD,’ that is, go out and ‘Make A Difference’ in the community.” Once again I’m reminded of the dedication to community service that these girls exemplify throughout their reign and beyond. We’re not in Hollywood, and this is not television’s “Toddlers and Tiaras,” although both of those things were in abundance during the cavalcade. Young ladies in multiple categories answered the judges’ questions with a poise and sophistication beyond their years, and I got caught up in the excitement as the afternoon progressed.

The little ones were adorable, and while their parents beamed, the contestants made them proud, as the show went on. I’ve been watching some of these kids grow up over the years and am so impressed seeing them grow into adulthood, knowing that they will move forward as good citizens, representing their generation with dignity. For the first time, a special “Spirit Award” was given; the recipient was mom Cathy Rampe, and it was fitting that pageant coordinator Elizabeth Hook-Brown asked Rampe’s daughters Amanda and Molly to assist in the presentation. As the year unfolds, both Amanda and Molly will be representing the pageant as the 2017 Miss Teen and Miss Pre-Teen Sullivan County, joining the other title holders who make personal appearances throughout the county all year long. Who says “youth is wasted on the young?” Not I.

For more photos from the 2017 Sullivan County Pageant visit www.Facebook.com/theriverreporter.


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