The Talk of Washington County
The article in our current issue about Washington County, New York, aka “The Place Nobody Knows,” was apparently the “talk of the Cambridge market last Sunday,” according to more than a few local residents who emailed us this week. Here’s a sample of what, exactly, they’ve been talking about.
“There is much more to Washington County than toothless farmers and gossiping in the general store and post office,” wrote Bob Nopper, a potter, artist and garlic farmer who lives in the region. “Here in our towns we rally together to take care of people diagnosed with cancer, look for missing children, create art, have a Fourth of July parade, farm vegetables, herbs, and livestock, make hay, spin yarn, bake bread, hunt, fish, work, teach and play. Our hills and valleys are home to famous writers, actors, award winning filmmakers, journalists, artists, sculptors, educators, gourmet food producers, architects, in addition to the farmers, plumbers, electricians, small business owners, and others who work in our community. We are snug between the tourist areas of Vermont and Saratoga Springs. There is some drive-through traffic which helps our economy, in the antique shops, galleries, farm stands and local food establishments.”
Nopper acknowledged that perhaps our writer, Barbara Lazear Ascher, couldn’t include all the cultural touchpoints in the region, so he offered a few standouts: “In Salem we offer the Historic Salem Courthouse, which is a community center, The Artisan’s Guild (which Nopper oversees), Steininger’s Restaurant and Homemade Chocolates, Salem Artworks, McCartee’s Barn, Gardenworks, Proudfit Hall, the Revolutionary War Cemetery, the recently renovated Fort Salem Theatre and Cabaret.”
A.K. Hutchinson, another area resident, wrote in to tell us about the Al Fresco dinner, an annual event that’s a perfect opportunity to get to know the people of “The Place Nobody Knows” a bit better. “The Al Fresco dinner is held in late July as a fund-raiser for the Historic Salem Court House,” she writes. “The two-day event hosts 400 for dinner on the lawn under tents on Saturday evening. There is entertainment, and locally grown and locally prepared food served on platters and in bowls made at the pottery studio associated with the old court house. On Sunday, about 300 take part in a brunch and open air market. The brunch is prepared by about a half dozen well known chefs. One memorable year the cast of Oklahoma, from the Fort Salem Theater, did excerpts from the show with a cornfield and the Green Mountains as backdrop. Someone at our table, from out-of-state, remarked that the event was the ‘best advertisement for small town living’ they had ever experienced. Both events sell out in a matter of days.”
For more information on the Al Fresco dinner, visit the Salem Courthouse website. And thanks to Hutchinson and Nopper for their letters.
Photo: Aaron Huey for National Geographic Traveler, Nov/Dec 2008
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