Historic Hudson Valley to Present RiverDay at Van Cortlandt Manor

Arm-of-the-Sea Theater will offer a dramatic telling of the epic story of New York City’s water supply, using the medium of puppet theater, on Sunday, Aug.

5, at Van Cortlandt Manor’s River Day, an event devoted to the history and ecology of the area’s watershed. Visitors that day can also tour the Croton River, snug inside a kayak.

Kayak Hudson, formerly known as Hudson River Recreation, will be performing kayak demonstrations during this celebration of the environment, allowing experienced kayakers to test drive new models while beginning kayakers can get their feet wet learning the sport.

River Day, which takes place from 12-6, is a festival-style event with an emphasis on hands-on activities that teach children and adults about the area’s fragile watershed.

Arm-of-the-Sea will be performing the hour-long "City that Drinks the Mountain Sky" at 2 p.m. The "eco-logic" theater group uses poetry, puppetry, and music to tell the ongoing story of the watershed and the uneasy marriage of those who must protect its vulnerable treasure. The performance will take place outdoors, behind Van Cortlandt’s Manor House, and is sponsored by the Catskill Watershed Corp. in partnership with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

"We are overjoyed to have Arm-of-the-Sea joining us this year for the first time with their innovative, witty approach to telling the fascinating story of how the Catskills ended up providing water to New York City," said Althea Corey, Van Cortlandt Manor site director.

"Both the Hudson River and the Croton River have been a source of commerce, travel, food, and recreation for centuries. Through games, workshops, and demonstrations, we’ll delve into the past and present uses, thoughts, and concerns about these rivers," said Ms. Corey.

Costumed interpreters will demonstrate how 18th-century Hudson Valley residents performed such marine-related tasks as fishing and boat building, and will demonstrate 18th-century tasks such as fishnet tying, cooking, milling, coopering, and blacksmithing. Visitors will be encouraged to lend a hand.

Other activities planned include fishing using 18th-century-style poles and games that teach children about water and river ecology.

Rocking the Boat, a non-profit youth development organization in the Bronx, will be demonstrating the wooden boats they create by hand.

A number of regional educational organizations and environmental advocacy groups are bringing hands-on educational activities to River Day, including the Hudson River Museum, the Hudson River Estuary Program, Croton Point Nature Center, Hudson River Water Trail Association, and author Chris Tompkins.

MALFA, local expert archeologists, will bring exhibits of artifacts from digs in the lower Hudson region.

Music will also be a big part of the day. Local musician Jim Keyes will be performing with his band, Sportin’ Jenny, as will the Walkabout Clearwater Chorus. Other performers include fiddler Felix Farrar, storyteller Jonathan Kruk, and folk singer Iris Cohen.

Picnic food from Geordanes in Irvington will be available.

Admission to River Day at Van Cortlandt Manor is $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; $6 for children 5-17; and free for children under 5 and HHV members. Van Cortlandt Manor, a Historic Hudson Valley site, is at 525 South Riverside Avenue (off Route 9) in Croton-on-Hudson. For info call 914-271-8981, www.hudsonvalley.org.

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