What do you get when you combine owls and music? Well, a HOOTenanny of course. This year marks Washington County’s first HOOTenanny, a gathering at Oliva Vineyards Winery and Tasting Room in Fort Edward celebrating the wise old bird and folk music.
• What: HOOTenanny
• When: Saturday, Aug. 16, from 4 to 7 p.m.
• Where: Oliva Vineyards, 2074 Route 4 in Fort Edward
• How much: $40 in advance and $45 at the door
• Info: ibafriends.org or caffelena.org
The event, which takes place on Saturday, Aug. 16, is the brainchild of two friends — one from Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, and the other from The Friends of the Important Bird Area (IBA) in Washington County.
“We came up with the idea of music, food and wine tasting and we took it from there,” said Laurie LaFond, president and director of Friends of the IBA. “We wanted to think of something that combined owls and music. That’s where the idea for the HOOTananny name came from.”
The collaboration with Dianne Winter, the associate director of Caffe Lena, just seemed right, LaFond said. Adding that their missions easily intertwined together, and by bringing folk music to the grassy lands of the owls, it just fit.
“Historically, the folk movement has had ties to the environment and social awareness,” Winter said. “This is our first fundraiser outside of a music hall — it’s a fun, new type of event for us, and by working with IBA, the folk music community is also very environmentally conscious, so we thought it would be a nice fit for our people to find another organization to support.”
Caffe Lena opened in 1960 and has helped to launch many of America’s best-loved songwriters, including Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie and Ani DiFranco. When the cafe’s original founder, Lena Spencer passed away in 1989, Caffè Lena was converted to a non-profit institution.
“One of our biggest missions is to launch new artists into the music world, and so supporting new musicians and paying them an appropriate fee for the work they are doing is not always something you can pass along by ticket sales,” Winter said. “Keeping folk music alive is something that requires additional support, and that is where the nonprofit end of our business comes in.”
The proceeds from the event will support Caffe Lena and will help the IBA with their first land acquisition.
Friends of the IBA is a nonprofit organization that works to protect endangered short-eared owls and other at-risk birds of the Washington County Grasslands.
LaFond is no stranger to fundraisers, having created the popular Winter Raptor Fest, which takes place each winter in Washington County.
“I founded and organized the Raptor Fest every year. It is very popular with our locals, but we draw people from out of the area too,” she said.
The Winter Raptor Fest allows visitors to experience native owls, hawks and falcons, including endangered short-eared owls and threatened raptors of the Washington County Grasslands.
“We have owl watches where we take people out and see owls in the wild. They flock together in the winter and are active during daylight. They come up out of the hay where they roost and start flying in front of you. I have had them fly within 10 feet of me, over two dozen of them together,” LaFond said. “These owls used to be common in New York in the early 1900s. Now, there are less than 100 average across the northwest and into Canada.”
While the winter event is for all ages, LaFond said HOOTenanny is geared more toward the adult crowd, combining wine tasting, a gourmet selection of hors d’oeuvres created by Spoonful Catering and a selection of bluegrass, ’70s and country music.
The event takes place at a vineyard in Fort Edward in what LaFond describes as a very relaxed atmosphere.
“It’s a beautiful place. It looks over the Hudson River. The room inside is for people to hang out in the wine bar and lounge area. The back porch overlooks the hills and pastures,” LaFond said.
The vineyard is located inside the Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area. The 2,000-acre grasslands is located along the Hudson River flyway and is critical to the survival of short-eared owls in New York.
Winter said that since the event takes place in the vicinity of the land the organization is looking to protect, it was only fitting to bring Caffe Lena to them.
“We wanted to bring some of what the cafe is to the event. Thirteen Feet of Bluegrass will play a couple sets for the event,” Winter said. “By bringing the music there, we are bringing us there too.”
“HOOTenanny 2014” will take place on Saturday, Aug. 16, from 4 to 7 p.m., at Oliva Vineyards, 2074 Route 4 in Fort Edward. Admission for the joint fundraiser is $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Tickets are on sale at www.caffelena.org. Visit ibafriends.org or caffelena.org for more information.