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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Long Eddy celebrates its Douglas City history

By Mike Vreeland - reporter / photographer

By: Mike Vreeland | Democrat
Members of VFW Post #7276 marched in the Douglas City Days parade.
LONG EDDY — “Allemande left with your corner” and “Swing your partner” could be heard throughout the hamlet of Long Eddy last Friday night. It was the kick off for activities of the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Douglas City, now known as Long Eddy. An old time square dance was taking place right on Depot Street. Hay bales surrounded the roadway dance floor. “I haven't square danced since elementary school,” remarked several participants. Callers Jim and Rita Greier walked the novice but brave dancers through the first steps, then the dancing began.
Mis-steps and merriment abounded as the rain held off until the last minutes of the evening.
Opening remarks by Town of Fremont Supervisor George Conklin welcomed visitors. A Long Eddy native, he thanked the Basket Historical Society for organizing and running the weekend's events. “Let's have a good time!” he exclaimed to cheers from the crowd.
Saturday was abuzz with activity. The parade at noon featured fire departments from Hankins-Fremont Center, Long Eddy, Hortonville, and Callicoon, the Upper Delaware Volunteer Ambulance Corps, costumed marchers, Civil War re-enactors, and antique cars.
Members of the Allan Milk Memorial VFW Post #7276 conducted a Veterans' Salute, honoring the past soldiers from the area. Soloist Kathleen Geosits sang “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”
A walking tour lead by Shaun Sensiba, president of the Basket Historical Society (BHS), took participants to many locales as he recounted the history of the area, including the bluestone quarrying trade, the acid factories, the train depot, hotel sites, and notable dwellings. Sensiba told of the hamlet's “brush with fame” when Teddy Roosevelt gave a stump speech on the back of a train stopped at the Long Eddy depot about a year before being sworn in as president upon McKinley's death.
The scents of the wild plants cooking demonstration by Akara Khanii tempted onlookers to sample the finished dishes. Art works by local painters, sculptors, and photographers were also on display. Local authors gave readings of their work at the museum in the afternoon.
The firehouse was busy with antique appraisals by Philip Hackett of Roland Auctions. Family heirlooms, artwork, antique toys, military items, furniture, and more were examined. Some of the family histories behind the items were as interesting as the items themselves.
The Kurpil Family Fiddlers entertained with an old-timey selection of songs that gave the event that bygone era ambience. Other entertainment was provided by Doug Rogers on piano, guitarist Dan Engvaldsen singing folk and classic rock numbers, and in the evening a performance by Nancy and the Nailers. Sunday's entertainment included a mandolin and fiddle performance by The Well Bottomers, and acoustic sets by JANTURAN and Little Sparrow.
Sunday's activities included a hike to the Ledges, from where participants could see the Delaware River below and the hills of Pennsylvania in the distance. And the kids (and adults) were excited as the ducks from the duck race fundraiser made their way toward the finish line along Hoolihan Creek. First place winner, Duck #98 - Jorge, earned his owner Becky Nevin-Gales a prize of $200. The first place trophy in the kayak and canoe sprint along the Delaware went to Arlyn Milk. The Under-10s kayak winner was Logan Milk. The winning (and only) canoe team was the teen duo of Aiden Sensiba and Elisa LaFramboise.
All weekend, visitors could stop by the Basket Historical Society Museum to view hundreds of local history items including antique tools, household wares, model buildings, photographs, and more. The museum hosted fly tying and fly casting demonstrations outdoors. A bluestone quarrying demonstration by Tompkins Bluestone resulted in a completed bluestone bench which they donated to the Basket Historical Society to be engraved in memory of the late Jack Niflot, former BHS president and historian.
The weekend drew visitors from near and far. Relatives of the late Anna Bullis, a local resident and historian, used the occasion as a time for a family reunion with relatives coming in from as far as Florida and Colorado.

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