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Linda Kellett - Janine Nelson, vice president of the Canajoharie-Palatine Chamber of Commerce, determines the winners of the group’s silent auction fundraiser.


Harvest Festival serves up a good crowd

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - Updated: 9:57 AM


C-S-E News Staff

CANAJOHARIE — Savory and warm on a crisp autumn night, fresh bread and soups prepared and donated by a number of local chefs were among the highlights of the Van Alstyne Homestead Society’s first Harvest Festival at the historic Moyer Street landmark Saturday.

Among the flavorful offerings included cauliflower cheddar soup by chef Debra Hyde of the Ayers House; a creamy butternut squash soup with spicy croutons by the Elephant Bistro; ham and bean soup by chef Richard Brown of Dome 49; pot roast soup by Lisa’s Family Restaurant; parsnip and apple soup by Aaron Katovitch of The Table at Fort Plain; pasta fagioli by Gino’s Restaurant; potato leek soup by chef Michael Lapi, faculty chef at RPI; Italian wedding soup by chef Kim Skahill of the Canajoharie Country Club; and bread by Mercato Restaurant. Cider was donated by Price Chopper, and home-baked cookies were prepared by members of the Canajoharie-Palatine Chamber of Commerce.

Other highlights of the society-hosted event included a cash bar, which benefitted the Fort Rensselaer Club; and a concert by Sun Mountain Fiddler Dick Solberg and the Sun Mountain Band. Additionally, a silent auction with a wide variety of items —including champagne, gas cards, jams, clothing, antiques, vintage newspapers, and the like — was held, which benefitted the chamber.

Janine Nelson, chamber vice-president, said proceeds of the fall auction have helped pay for holiday lights for the community. “This will be the last silent auction for that purpose,” she said.

Society President Phyllis Lapi said the mission of the Van Alstyne Society is “to preserve and care for this building and its collection, and also to provide programming for the community.” Event proceeds go toward conservation of the building and the collection.

The building was built in 1749 by Martin J. Van Alstyne, a miller and Dutch immigrant. It served as a meeting place for the Tryon County Safety Committee in 1774 and 1775. Lapi said it’s also believed that Gen. Nicholas Herkimer received his commission from George Washington at the site, which served as a refuge during the Burning of the Valleys and played a role during the French and Indian War.

In addition to the structure, the building also houses a collection of Rufus Grider paintings and many artifacts collected by Grider that relate to different periods of the valley, Lapi said.

Members of the Fort Rensselaer Club, started by Bartlett Arkell, have also met at the building for many years. Lapi said the club owned the building from around 1912 to 1985. In 1985, the Van Alstyne Society took possession of the building.

The building is open for tours during the summer and by appointment. The society’s next fundraiser will take place the first Sunday in December, at which time they will hold their second annual Christmas tea and craft fair. There will be three seatings: at 11 a.m., at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“Last year it was a sell-out,” said Lapi, who suggested interested participants get tickets at Picture Perfect as soon as they become available around Nov. 1. Call (518) 673-3066.

In order to join the Van Alstyne Society, call 596-4929. There is a $25 individual membership fee, and other levels are also available.

“We’re looking for members, volunteers and people interested in becoming docents,” Lapi said. “We would welcome everyone to join.”

The Harvest Festival was made possible, in part, by the Canajoharie-Palatine-Root Community Chest and a Fulton-Montgomery Arts grant, part of the decentralization program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts administered by Saratoga Arts. Both helped pay for the music.

More images in the Seen section.


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