Mohawk Hudson Folklife Festival 2022

Mohawk Hudson Folklife Festival 2022

The Mohawk Hudson Folklife Festival is BACK for its second year! Join is on Sunday, October 2nd for another year of artist demonstrations, musical performances and new this year – cooking lessons! The festival will begin at 11:00 am and end at 5:30 pm at the Washington Park Lakehouse Amphitheatre.  

Celebrate the moving tapestry and rich cultural traditions of the Capital Region. Join us for a fun filled day of music, dance, art, food, crafts, and food demonstrations. Artists will demonstrate traditions like henna, pysanky, embroidery, and blacksmithing. Engage and participate with practitioners and the living traditions right here in the Capital Region. Practitioners hail from New York, Republic of the Congo, Greece, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and more! New this year is a series of food demonstrations by community cooks. Members of the Congolese, Karen. and Caribbean communities of the Capital Region will showcase their favorite dishes.

Two Young Karen girls dance at the 2021 festival

 

Musical performances will be on all day by folk favorites like the The Desi Trio and Capital Region staple, Mixed Roots.  

Food Demonstration Schedule
11:30 am -12:15 pm Karen fried gourd and fish with Saw Dabu
1:30 pm -2:15 pm Dominican empanada with Santa Cabrera
3:30 pm – 4:15 pm Congolese Samusa with Huguette Tshiamua

The full festival recipes can be found here 

Performance Schedule
11:05 am- 11:30 am Karen Music and Dance by Pinya and Eshue Aung
11:45 am -12:30 pm Puerto Rican Music by Tony and Rosario Madera
12:45 pm – 1:30 pm Pakistani and Desi Music by The Desi Trio
1:45 pm -2:30 pm Albanian Dance with Tatijana Gjergji
2:45 pm – 3:30 pm Congolese Music by Wa Lika
3:45 pm – 4:30 pm Puerto Rico and Afro-Cuban with ArtPartners/Tsehaya & Company
4:45 pm – 5:30 pm Mixed Roots

The full festival program can be found here   

The  Upstate Regional Initiative is a program initiated by the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts. The project was developed to conduct field documentation and programming in counties underserved by the Folk Arts program of NYSCA, with the goal to serve as a catalyst for community-based projects and to identify artists and cultural traditions within these regions. The initiative continues in 2022 in the Greater Capital Region. The Festival is sponsored by NYSCA, Discover Albany, HumanitiesNY, and the City of Albany. 

colorful pysanky in a cardboard egg container

Pysanky by local artist Sarah Bachinger

 

Culture of Cohoes – Chee-Bog Filipino Restaurant has found a permanent home  

Culture of Cohoes – Chee-Bog Filipino Restaurant has found a permanent home  

The diner on Cohoes’ Ontario Street has been a staple for the city’s residents and working-class people. Soon it will be home to Chris “Champ” and Cindy Peralta’s Chee-Bog restaurant. Chee-Bog is well known in the Capital Region for its pop-ups featuring Filipino cuisine.  

Champ immigrated from the Philippines in 2013, He met his wife Cindy in Chicago in 2014. After the birth of their first child in 2018, they moved back to upstate New York to be near Cindy’s family.  

During that time, Uncle John’s Diner ‘s diner was helmed by Jackie Reavey, her husband, “Uncle” John Reavey had passed away a few years prior. Jackie, with the help of a friend, kept the diner going. Jackie explained that the diner was John’s dream, but after his death in 2014 and the COVID 19 pandemic it became too much. While talking with New York Folklore Jackie reminisced about her years behind the counter:  

“Some people just come in just to hear a voice sometimes, cause they live alone. There was always a lot of discussion … it was nice to encourage conversation back and forth.  and I think they liked that, even if they didn’t agree.” 

Jackie herself is a community scholar of sorts, she has been collecting photos, stories, and history about thediner, Cohoes, and her family, long times residents of the city. Chee-bog will be a primarily takeout set up inspired by Karinderyas, or small local eateries and food stalls found in the Philippines. In addition, they will honor Uncle John’s legacy as a gathering space through monthly events and traditional Filipino gatherings. The famous counter where countless meals have been eaten will be put on wheels. This will give Champ more space behind the counter and allow for the hosting of Boodle Fights (or Kamayan) – a communal feast where food is served on banana leaves and eaten without utensils. In addition, Champ will be serving Uncle John’s famous breakfast sandwiches, one of Jackie’s favorites to serve her customers.  

Champ learned his arsenal of Filipino recipes from his mother and grandmother. Recipes like Lumpia (Filipino spring rolls), Adobo (Pork or chicken in a garlic, soy sauce marinade), Pancit (Rice Noodles), Lechon Kawalli (brined pork belly) are staples of the Chee-bog menu.  

A man, woman, and their children poses outside Uncle John's diner poses

The Peralta Family outside Uncle John’s Diner

The diner is no stranger to immigrant cultures. Before Uncle John’s Diner, the restaurant went by the name of Edelweiss, and was owned by a German immigrant named Helen, who had a formidable reputation in Cohoes. Before Edelweiss, the diner was called Art’s Pourhouse. The history of the diner goes back further, to at least the 1920’s, but searches for more details by Jackie have turned up little.  

You can learn more about Chee-Bog on their social channels https://www.facebook.com/cheebogtroy/

*Blog Photos are Courtesy of Chee-Bog

From the Field Mohawk Valley

From the Field Mohawk Valley

This From the Field Feature is courtesy of New York Folkore Staff Folklorist – Anne Rappaport Berliner. Since late 2021 she has been working with beekeepers in the Mohawk Valley.

The Mohawk Valley has a rich history of beekeeping.  Moses Quinby, an important figure in beekeeping history, lived and worked in the valley.  Today there are Mohawk Valley beekeepers carrying on the legacy.  Many are members of the Southern Adirondack Beekeeper Association,  an important group in the area.  However, anyone who is anyone will tell you that Carl Jurica was the center of a tight knit beekeeping community.

A smoker filled with hay

The hive smoker was invented by Moses Quinby in 1873.

Carl was a lifelong beekeeper in Johnstown, NY.  He passed away just a few weeks after I interviewed him in October 2021.  His legacy lives on through his mentees, students, friends, and of course his bees. In addition to Carl’s community, I recently started interviewing beekeepers in other parts of the Capital Region, “BEE” they backyard or commercial keepers.  I have learned about bees themselves and of course, tried lots of honey.  The dark honey – called wildflower, produced by bees in the fall is my favorite.

A beekeeper locks up his beeyard, his dog by his side

Scott Hart locks up his beeyard.

If you spend more than a few minutes talking to a beekeeper, you will hear them talk about their “girls” AKA the bees!  Most bees in a hive are female – no matter their job, nursing, gathering, or building.  It is unlikely you will find a keeper who doesn’t talk to their “girls.”  Experienced beekeepers can tell how the hives feel based on their sound and behavior.  Conversation between the bees and their keepers are common!

When a bee leaves their hive in search of food, it returns to its hive by recognizing the visual attributes of its home.  Because of this, beekeepers often paint their hives bright colors.  I have seen rainbows of hives as well as individual images.  One of my favorite hives is in the keeper’s home.  The bees naturally found their way into the house, and the keeper fitted the hive with glass cover so it can be viewed from the inside!

I’m hoping to continue expanding my interviews past the Mohawk Valley and into the greater Capital Region.  I have been asked by many of the folks I meet if I’ll ever keep bees, and though I’m not ready yet, I get the feeling it is just a matter of time.  I do love honey!

Are you a New York State folklorist or community scholar? We would love to publish your “From the Field.” Email Anne, [email protected] to “BEE” featured.

The featured photo is a painted beehive by Carl Jurica

37th Annual Folk Arts RoundTable

37th Annual Folk Arts RoundTable

At our 37th annual New York Folklore Arts Roundtable, we did things “new” in an old-fashioned way!  A new and old hotel, a new and old format, and new and familiar faces!  We excitedly welcomed Roundtablers who   attended last year and colleagues like George Ward and Ruby Marcotte, who joined us for the first time in many years.

Monday morning, we gathered in the recently refurbished Queensbury Hotel – first opened in the 1920’s. “What You’re Working On Presentations” harkened back to the first years of the Roundtable – devoid of audio visual materials. In just 5-minutes participants presented on their current projects and solicited feedback for the breakout discussions that followed. The format was well accepted, letting each person the hear what everyone else was working on. Those with an affinity for technology, created short videos in lieu of an oral presentation. The videos were an excellent way to end our second day, before turning the Roundtable attendees loose to further explore the city of Glens Falls.

Monday and Tuesday morning gave Roundtablers the chance to explore downtown and the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library. Todd DeGarmo Center director, welcomed us to learn about the archiving, programming, exhibiting and other productions. We heard briefly about the Farm 2 Library by Comfort Food Community. The project brings fresh produce and food to those in need.

Comfort Food Community Food Recovery Manger, Zach Bain, joined us as a guest to discuss Land Stewardship, Agriculture and Food Sovereignty. Along with Zach we welcomed Jinah Ahn of Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen and Peter Jemison and Angel Jimerson of the White Corn Project at Ganondagan State Historic Site.

As always, we ended the Roundtable with an overview of the work done by New York Folklore. Remember you can always find information about Mentoring and Technical Assistance on our website at https://nyfolklore.org/mentoring-professional-development/

Pysanky For Peace Supports Ukrainian Relief Efforts

Pysanky For Peace Supports Ukrainian Relief Efforts

New York’s Capital Region is home to a large community of Ukrainian people. Many are the children of immigrants who came during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These communities grew in towns like Watervliet, Cohoes, Troy, and others across the state.

This is where the story of Sarah Bachinger begins. Growing up between Cohoes and Herkimer, she learned the traditional arts of the Ukrainian Lemko (an ethnic group of Ukrainians who lived in western Ukraine/Eastern Poland).

“ We would visit her [grandmother] for two or three weeks in the summer, during vacation and almost every summer while she was still alive and she would teach me the Ukrainian cross stitch with all the traditional patterns… I learned that from her and the Pysanky making as well.”

The traditional knowledge and project idea have long been part of Bachinger consciousness. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the idea was given life in the form of the Pysanky for Peace Project.

According to the Pysanky for Peace website:

We aim to create and collect 100,000 pysanky for the purpose of raising funds to help the ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, and to bring awareness and share this important cultural tradition of the Ukrainian People. We are currently working to gather partners who would be interested in donating goods and to exhibit the work of contributing pysanky artists/writers and eventually, we would like to see pysanky from this project delivered to the people of Ukraine after peace finds its way back to our homeland.

hands tracing a design on an egg

A workshop attendee traces beeswax on an egg.

As part of the project Sarah has begun hosting Pysanky workshops in the Capital Region. Most recently at Refuge Event Space in Troy, NY.

The workshop begins with a short mediation by Refuge proprietor, Tara, followed by an introduction by Sarah, to the Psyanky for Peace Project, and a short folk tale.

“Hutsuls, which are an ethnic group from the Carpathians believe that pysanky making is important because there is a monster that is chained to the mountains, who keeps track of how many pysanky are made each year and if not enough pysanky are made than his chains loosens and evil is able to take over, but if enough pysanka are made then those chains tighten and peace remains on earth.”

The story is followed by an explanation of how Pysanky are made, usually around the Easter season. Small pieces of beeswax are melted into a tool called kistka, which are used to trace designs on an egg. After the design is complete the eggs are dipped in dye, more beeswax is applied, and the egg is dipped again in a different color. Once this is complete the wax is melted off to reveal a multicolored design.

Artist demonstrate Pysanky to a group

Sarah demonstrates to attendees.

The workshop is attended by a mix of people; some are of Ukrainian descent and are familiar with Pysanky making, others are attending in solidarity with their neighbors and friends. The conversation varies but often turns to the experience of growing up Ukrainian in the Capital Region. Topics like; parish preferences, where to get pysanky supplies, and did you know so and so?” are discussed over the Ukrainian music playing in the room, interrupted occasionally with a triumphant “Look!” and presentation of an egg or a question about the process for Sarah.

The project will have their first exhibit opening in April at the Wenham Museum in Wenham, MA.

You can find more information about the Pysanky for Peace Project at https://pysankyforpeace.com/

To learn more about aid efforts for Ukraine in the Capital Region you visit the 518 Ukrainians Facebook Group.

Capital Region Artists Receive Community Grants

Capital Region Artists Receive Community Grants

Congratulations to New York Folklore-supported artists who received a Statewide Community Regrant (SCR). These grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, are distributed by community arts partners. In the Capital Region, we are happy to work with the Arts Center of Capital Region.

At a ceremony at the Arts Center, seven folk and traditional artists accepted a combined total of $16,000. The grants will fund workshops, demonstrations, and performances for each artist in their communities and the general public.

Artists worked with New York Folklore’s Edgar Betelu to complete grant applications at the end of 2021. New York Folklore had identified these talented traditional artists as part of the 2021 Upstate Regional Project.

Congratulations to:

Pinya Aung, Karen Harpist

Ehsue Klay Aung, Karen Dancer

Latifa Ali Mohammad, Afghan Embroidery

Jordan Taylor Hill, African Drumming and Dance

Seth Tagoe Traore, Ghanian Drumming and Dance

Shaman Raphel, Pakistani  Harmonium and Singing

Aurelius John, Pakistani Percussion and Flute