Get a big dose of cat at Cat’n Around Catskill, an ideal place to get your cat fix while on vacation this summer.
Can you imagine visiting a town with a main street lined with artistic cats? That’s what you’ll find if you visit Catskill in update New York this summer.
This year, 2021 marks the 15th year of this popular feline event, where 53 cats will line Main Street. Now, these aren’t live cats. They are colorful artistic fiberglass cat statues.
Despite some travel restrictions still in place due to COVID-19, Catskill is going to the cats once again this summer with over 50 fabulous cat statues lining Main Street from Memorial Day to September 12.
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Curiosity brings individuals from all over to see these amazing cat statues in this feline art celebration. And should it be any surprise as what better way to get a big dose of cat than by visiting Cat’n Around Catskill. What’s even cooler is that some new cat-related businesses are joining in bringing out the cat in Catskill, expanding the cat theme beyond the artistic festival.
Another cat-astic thing is the cats can find their way around the country and beyond, as they all go up for grabs at the grand finale – the annual Gala Auction.
Read More: 53 Cats Will Be Cat’n Around in Catskill this Summer |
If you find a favorite you want to take home with you, take note:
These feline artist renditions will be up for grabs when the Heart of Catskill Association presents the Annual Cat’s Meow Auction and Gala on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at the Historic Catskills Point. From 4 to 5 pm, there will be the Viewing & Hors d’oeuvres. At 5 pm, the Live Auction of the feline statues begins. Only serious buyers are encouraged to attend the auction, as the goal is to raise funds to help the community and bring back the cats next year.
It’s hard to describe Cat’n Around Catskill without being there because we can’t put a real feel for a town with so many artistic cats into words.
While Main Street is lined with the artistic renditions from this year, you will most likely be greeted by additional cats purchased by local businesses at auctions in previous years, displayed in storefronts throughout Main Street and beyond.
This cat-themed event wouldn’t be possible without the foundation, Cat’n Around Catskill, which spends hours and hours every year making these cats come to life.
Every year they wonder if it will be the last, but each year, the New York cat celebration gets better and better. The famous ‘Catskill Cats’ have become national and even international phenomena. It’s no small deal as we find the auction raises over $80,000.
A big dose of cat hours go into Cat’n Around Catskill
That’s because the Catskill cats don’t just appear from nowhere. There’s a whole lot of planning that goes into this annual event. There’s a theme, and there’s actually a vote on what designs make the cut for the coming year’s statues. Sponsors pay $500 for a cat, and then artists chose which design they are going to follow.
Here’s how it works. Sixty cats (made from fiberglass) are purchased at $500 per cat by the sponsors, while local artists are encouraged to submit up to two design concepts to the Cat’n Around Catskill Committee for the selection process. The approved artists are then invited to a Sponsor/Artist Reception, where the sponsors select the artist they will partner with to create their cats.
Sponsors looking for a design to complement their business can contact the office and set up a meeting with an artist to create a design relating to their business. The Artists will then transform their Cats for unveiling of the cats for Memorial Day weekend.
Profits from the Cat’s Meow Auction and Gala at the Historic Catskill are then divided as follows:
First, in profound appreciation for the work done by our artists, they receive 30 percent of their cat’s gross auction price.
Then, net proceeds are divided as follows:
- Local not for-profit agencies
- Animal welfare
- The Barry Hopkins Memorial Scholarship
- And to the Heart of Catskill for future projects to promote Catskill
There’s also a raffle. Tickets are now available to win this year’s Raffle Cat. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20. Tickets are available at the Greene County Chamber of Commerce, The Wine Cellar, or call the HOCA office at 518-943-0989. The Raffle winner will be drawn at the auction on Sept. 18. What better way to get one of the cats to take home.
The cats are on display now, and if you can’t get to Catskill right now, go to Cat’n Around Catskill’s Facebook page, to see a sample of the cats that will line the streets.
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It should be no surprise to find an artistic cat festival in Catskill. Located in the upper Hudson Valley, the midpoint between Albany and Kingston, directly on the banks of the Hudson River, this area has a history of being involved with the arts. Catskill (no S) is the county seat and is the historic home to the Thomas Cole Estate, as well as the setting of Rip Van Winkle folklore. When you see Catskills it refers to the whole area, not just the town of Catskill.
Past and present artists live and work near Catskill, the focal point of the Hudson River School of Art. Today, many of the historic residences and classic Victorian homes have been restored by local artists, writers, and other professionals. Some of the cats promote activities the area is famous for:
- Skiing the Catskill Mountains
- Political messages
- Quirky and funny cats
- Pride in the community
Catskill is a transliteration of “Kaatskil,” meaning “Kaat’s Creek,” a name given by the Dutch who settled there in the 1600s. Partially due to the modern spelling of the name, Catskill has become associated with the lovely feline animal that has become a favorite in their community as well as on the Internet.
The village of Catskill itself is steeped in history, with many of the storefronts on Main Street, the hub of the cats’ exhibition, having been restored to their original turn of the century facings, providing a perfect backdrop for the cats.
The cats of Catskill, a tourist attraction
The cats of Catskill have helped revitalize the area. With the growing popularity of felines in homes and on the Internet, people are drawn to cat-themed locations where they can get their big dose of cat while on vacation, including Cat’n Around Catskill.
The community was a bit run down. But through hard work and programs such as Cat’n Around Catskill, the area has taken on new life. Many locals credit these celebrations with drawing in new talent to the area, which has long been a favorite locale for artists, writers, and professionals from all over, particularly New York City.
Another caveat – with the popularity of the cats in Catskill, other cat-themed locations are cropping up in town and nearby.
Cat on the Corner is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience for cat lovers of all ages. This cat-themed gift shop offers a variety of quality products from all over the world–all centered on cats.
Owned and operated by Kira Goldfarb, a Catskill native and fur-mom, she also runs a handmade pet accessory business (Kira’s Pet Shop), a local catsitting service (Catskill Village Catsitting), and is the manager at The Community Theatre on Main Street.
Another cat named business is Dancing Cat Saloon @ The Catskill Distilling Co.
We aren’t so sure how many cats you will see here, but it’s got the idea name to go with the cats of Catskill. This fine dining restaurant is next to the Catskill Distilling Company. Local art graces the walls and live music would make any cat purr in this cozy and cool eating establishment nearby the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the original Woodstock festival site.
Interestingly this artistic theme has caught on in the area. We find:
- Kingston has peacock statues
- Saugerties has sailboats
- Woodstock (home of the famous Woodstock rock festival of the 1960s) has guitar statues
- Cairo with painted bears.
- And Port Ewen has a Tugboat Trail within the community
History of Catskill: The Victorian era
The Catskills, have long been home to artists and the independent-minded. Dutch immigrants settled there in the 1600s where they grew wheat and rye, making way for dairy and egg farming.
A new group of artists and writers would arrive in the 1800s. Thomas Cole settled there in 1825 after emigrating from Lancashire, England, seven years earlier, bringing a number of others with him. A painter and engraver, Cole became a founder of the Hudson River School, one of the country’s first great American art movements.
Celebrated artists like Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt were enamored with the area’s stately peaks and valleys. They painted landscapes where fishermen plucked plump brook trout from Esopus Creek. The Catskills became notable, particularly among patrons who commissioned paintings to be hung in European salons and the drawing rooms of wealthy New Yorkers.
By the mid-1800s, farmers and innkeepers began renting out bungalows to boarders from the city looking to escape the summer’s oppressive humidity and heat.
Tourists arrived mostly by train. The trek could take as much as a day from Manhattan, which meant middle-class families who ventured there often stayed a week or more, especially in summer. The mountains were a haven for painters.
In 1896, a physician, Alfred Lebbeus Loomis, founded a sanitarium in Liberty, N.Y., for tuberculosis patients who believed the cure for the disease was fresh air and rest. Though Loomis died before the sanitarium was opened, it put a damper on people wanting to come to the area.
The Big Hotel Era
Like many other country communities, the Catskills – Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties – were swept into the era of the big hotels, a haven for Jewish families looking for a welcoming place to spend summer vacations The most prominent of these was Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel, a kosher establishment that started as a farmhouse in Liberty in 1919. Jennie Grossinger, the formidable daughter of the founder, oversaw its dominance as a major hotel that had its own airstrip and post office.
Jewish musicians and comedians, too, became celebrities in the Catskills long before they achieved mainstream success. Among them:
- Woody Allen
- Jerry Seinfeld
- Sid Caesar
- Joan Rivers
- Jackie Mason
- And comedian Jerry Lewis worked as a pool boy and busboy while his parents performed a vaudeville act
The Hippies Era
The Catskills fell out of vogue for a combination of reasons
By the late 1960s, Jewish enclaves in the Catskills had given way to an influx of hippies who were attracted to the cheap land and free-spirited lifestyle. The influx culminated in the Woodstock festival in August 1969, when half a million people convened on a dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y., for a three-day music extravaganza to celebrate hippie counterculture and protest the Vietnam War. Once there, the dissenters formed communes and art communities.
The area languished again in the 1980s and 1990s. But it still had its charms, and it attracted a hearty, entrepreneurial crowd. Visitors from New York City have set up cafes, bars, woodworking shops, art studios, breweries, and writing residencies that many hope will bolster a local economy that is still reeling from the last recession in 2008.
The Catskill cats have helped restore the economy of the area, as cat-obsessed people flock to see these interesting cat statues lining the streets of Catskill.
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