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Saturday, October 25, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
A sign in front of the Van Alstyne Homestead, 42 Moyer St., details its history.

Joshua Thomas
On a stone slab in front of the Van Alstyne Homestead used to sit the iconic cannon and cannon balls. The society's membership hopes to soon fix and replace the cannon, at a cost of approximately $3,500.

Joshua Thomas
The Van Alstyne Homestead, 42 Moyer St., will hold a chili cook off and live music April 13.

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Van Alstyne Homestead to hold fundraising chili cook-off April 13

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 - Updated: 4:54 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

CANAJOHARIE — The Van Alstyne Homestead, at 42 Moyer St., will hold a chili cook-off with live music on Saturday, April 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The facility's upstairs museum will be open for tours, and on display will be items from the collection of historical art, colonial documentation, and artifacts, including numerous items that haven't been seen by the public in some time exhibited specifically for this occasion.

Chili cook-off challengers include Francis Avery, Canajoharie Mayor; James Post, Palatine Bridge Mayor, Rev. R. Zachary Labagh, pastor at St. John's-St. Mark's Lutheran Church; Deborah Grimshaw, CCS superintendent; Douglas Morrissey, Canajoharie Middle School principal; Stacy Ward, East Hill Elementary School principal; Clifford Dorrough, village code enforcement officer, Chris Fatta, and Rita Pinero, who has already issued a challenge in the form of a claim that her chili is some of the best on the planet.

The fundraiser will benefit the preservation of the historical colonial site, constructed in 1749. While member John Buck said that the Van Alstyne Society "seems to be the organization that everybody thinks is solid," he explained that just maintaining the building — which includes heating it through the winter, as the museum contains sensitive pieces — is a monumental, fund-consuming task in itself.

On top of keeping the property up to date, much in the same manner as you would a home, Buck noted that the Van Alstyne Homestead membership has accomplished numerous goals over the past few years, mainly through grants and gifts, as Buck stated, "the only ways we can raise money is through citizen participation, membership and grants".

One massive task for the membership was installing a new, rubberized roof over the facility. A new boiler was also installed, and while many major electrical problems were corrected, there are some that still exist.

Future plans also include returning the iconic cannon, previously located on the front lawn of the facility, along with a pile of cannonballs, until about six years ago, to its longtime home. "People who've been here their whole lives remember those things, and when they're not there, it's a piece that's missing," said Buck, summing up the challenge of the organization — to constantly restore and maintain the historical pieces and features that make the museum a unique local treasure, while working just to keep everything in basic running order.

The membership, currently numbering about 50, would also like to correct a drainage problem (estimated at $16,000) to keep water out of the building. There are also pieces in the museum's collection that require attention, including conservation.

The collection housed at the Van Alstyne Homestead, unlike other local collections, consists primarily of historical artwork, including pieces by Rufus Grider, depicting the 18th and middle 19th century, with artifacts purchased all around the world by society members.

The most valuable asset though, pointed out Buck, is the building itself. "It was here during the Revolution," he commented, noting that it has housed several important happenings, including the event wherein General Nicholas Herkimer received commission as Brigadier General.

The building, said Buck, is currently underutilized, and it's a goal of the current membership to get people through the door not only as a way to potentially interest new people to become involved with the organization, but to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to make their own history in the time-tested space.

Tickets for the chili cook off, which will feature a performance by the Jan Cronkhite Trio, will be sold at the door. Admission is $5.

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