Cyclists converge on Canal Fest

It was expanded between 1834 to 1862, and in its heyday, it cut transportation costs to traders by 95 percent.

In 1918, the larger New York State Barge Canal replaced the canal. Today it is part of the New York State Canal System, and is mainly used by recreational watercraft.

Recreation boats were on hand at the Mabee Farm all weekend, offering guided historic boat tours to tourists.

Music fits with history

An Americana music festival that fit with the history of the Mabee site and the canal greeted those who chose to stay on land.

Little Toby Walker, Roy Hurd, Yarn, Landfill Mountain Boys, Riverview Ramblers, and Susan Trump, who also offered a popular hammered dulcimer workshop, treated folk and blues enthusiasts to generous sets.

Jay Unger and Molly Mason were Saturday's concert headliners, and they brought their brand of American barn dance music to a beautiful farm landscape.

Their playful rendition of the traditional "The Boatman" reverberated as the crowd looked out past the stage toward the Mohawk.

Unger and Mason are quick to understand the relationship between history and music. Their instrumental piece "Ashokan Farewell" was included in Ken Burns' "The Civil War" documentary and earned the New Palz-duo a Grammy Award.

"In pre-recording days there was still a lot of music in peoples lives," said Unger. "So we try to carry on that live music tradition, getting people to sing with us. We try to make music something to do together."

Nearly 2,000 people came the two-day festival, according to Pat Barrot, the Mabee Farm's site manager. Barrot said the festival is popular every year because of the wide range of activities offered and because the folk music genre complements the history inherent in the canal and the colonial Mabee Farm.

"The music has to have a certain feeling for it to be played at a colonial historic site. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but it has to feel like us," said Barrot as she pointed toward the stage while the audience sang along with an old American tune.


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