COOPERSTOWN – Five years after he made his stage debut as Belle’s Baby in “A Christmas Carol,” Dashiell Henrici is ready to take his career to the next level.
“A few months ago, he announced he was going to be an actor,” said his mother, Danielle. “And for this show, he was told to say the word ‘God’ like you have a hot dog in your mouth, so he walked around teaching everyone.”
Dashiell plays Tiny Tim – with the single line “God bless us, every one,” in the full-cast audiobook of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” presented by the Fenimore Art Museum’s Glimmer Globe Theatre, and The Farmers’ Museum’s Templeton Players, now available to stream for free on the Fenimore Art Museum’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
PREMIER – Enjoy this years online only production of Charles Dickens’s classic tale ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Free on Facebook & Youtube. Presented by The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or www.facebook.com/farmersmuseum
FOOD DRIVE, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. – Help the Cooperstown Food Pantry by contributing food and personal care items at the annual Cooperstown Emergency Squad food drive in the Price Chopper parking lot, 113 Chestnut St. Canned tuna, peanut butter and jelly, and items like shampoo or body wash, etc., especially needed. The goal is “to fill the back of the ambulance, maybe twice!”
OTEGO HOLIDAY TOUR, 4-6 p.m. – See Otego during holiday season. Enjoy treats from Santa, drive thru nativity scene, opportunity to view Otego Christmas tree, a holiday dinner (pre-registration preferred). Please wear a mask & practice social distancing when out of the car. Please bring dry goods or hygiene products to donate to local food banks. Presented by Harris Memorial Library. 607-988-6661 or visit www.facebook.com/events/3708320132564206/
When people around here think of Christmas, they think of…monkeys?
At least they used to.
“In the 19th century, they were still developing Christmas imagery,” said James Matson, Fenimore Art Museum assistant curator. “Images of animals had a more exotic appeal, and animals like monkeys were associated with the circus, with fun.”
Two such playful monkeys adorn one of the many Christmas cards at The Fenimore’s “Decking the Halls” exhibit, open through Dec. 31.
“It’s something delightful for the holidays,” said Chief Curator Chris Rossi. “It’s been fun to go through the archives to find these unseen holiday goodies.”
The exhibit features ornaments, paintings, toys and illustrations celebrating Christmas not just across the country, but right here in Cooperstown.
Susan Fenimore Cooper wrote about local Christmases in her “Rural Hours,” said Chief Curator Chris Rossi. “She writes about the greenery and gifts, and we thought it would be fun to include her voice in the exhibition.”
She wrote, “Christmas must always be a happy, cheerful day. The fresh and fragrant greens, the friendly gifts and words of goodwill, the ‘Merry Christmas’ smiles on most faces one meets, give a warm glow to the day.”
“Things haven’t changed much,” said Rossi.
Among the Christmas cards in the exhibit is a 1931 example sent out by Edward Severin Clark, Jane Clark’s great uncle, as well as a “Christmas in Cooperstown” contributed by the Afton Historical Society.
“They found it in their collections and were kind enough to bring it our way,” said Rossi. “The timing was right.”
You’ll also see an image of Thomas Nast’s original Santa Claus, in the Christmas 1862 issue of Harper’s Weekly. “Nast is credited with the definitive ideal of how Santa looks,” said Rossi.
Early depictions, Nast’s and others, show him alone making the toys, she said, adding, “We know Santa has elves, but we don’t see them in any of the works in this exhibit.”
Elves, like the famous red velvet suit, came more into prominence in the 20th century.
The card case isn’t the only place a playful monkey is featured. A hearth filled with toys includes one on a pull-string. “The monkey is the hidden theme,” Rossi jokes. “Making the tableaux was the most fun, getting to pick out a mantelpiece and all these toys.”
There’s a teddy bear, of course, and building blocks, as well as an elaborate dollhouse. “Dollhouses were fun to play with, because a little girl could learn about housekeeping and furnishing a home.”
Christmas trees didn’t come into fashion in America until Queen Victoria put one up.
Dried berries made for a festive garland and cotton stood in for snow, with paper cones that could be filled with sweets for the children.
But without electricity, the glow of the tree had to be lit with thin white candles. “You would only light them for a few minutes,” said Rossi. “Otherwise, your whole tree would go up in flames.”
In addition to homemade ornaments, a number of glass ornaments from the late 19th century were brought out of The Fenimore’s collection, as well as silver tinsel trim. “With the candles, it must have looked very bright,” said Rossi.
This year, with no Candlelight Evening – The Farmers’ museums’ usual seasonal centerpiece – “Decking The Halls” is one of the alternatives developed for the Christmas of COVID.
At The Farmers’, Holiday Lantern Tours are being offered, this coming weekend and Dec. 18-19.
“I don’t want to be too modest, but The Fenimore and Farmers’ Museum makes a considerable contribution to how Christmas is celebrated in Cooperstown,” said Matson.
OPEN HOUSE – 3 – 6 p.m. Stop by to enjoy the Winter Show featuring 7 artists with spotlight on plein air works by Ursula Carr Bower plus cameo of scarves and necklaces from the Taj Garage. Call or text to reserve viewing slot. The Art Garage, 689 Beaver Meadow Rd., Cooperstown. 607-547-5327 or visit www.facebook.com/TheArtGarageCooperstown/
LANTERN TOUR – 3 p.m. Tour historic village in its winter finery while learning about history of Christmas, how it was celebrated in our area in the past, origin of Christmas trees, much more. Each tour limited to 8 people, leaves at 20 minute intervals to 8 p.m., face masks required. Dress warmly for 1 hour tour. Reservations required. Cost, $20/non-member. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1534 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org
THANKSGIVING – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Learn about Thanksgiving in the 1840s. Stroll through historic village to see the blacksmith crafting eating utensils, learn how food was cooked, stop at the Bump Tavern for traditional dessert. Masks required. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/stec_event/thanksgiving/0/
AUCTION – Noon. – 11/28, 4 p.m. Adorn-A-Door wreath festival/silent auction goes online. Place bids for wreaths by individuals & businesses, or enter the ‘Dinner’s On Us’ raffle. All proceeds go to Cooperstown Art Association. Visit www.cooperstownart.com/adorn-a-door.html for info.
TRUNK OR TREAT – 4 p.m. Decorate your cars and bring the kids for fun activities from building a spider, pumpkin carving, make a ghost, and of course collecting candy. All stations are sanitized, 6 feet apart. The Railroad Inn, 28 Railroad Ave., Cooperstown.
STREAMING – Theater returns with ‘An Evening of Lanford Wilson’ featuring 3 plays performed by local actors. ‘Days Ahead,’ with Gary Stevens, ‘A Poster of the Cosmos’ with Steve Dillon, & ‘The Moonshot Tape’ with Brooke Tallman-Birkett. Cost, $10 for 2-day steaming access. Presented by Stuff of Dreams Productions. 607-432-5407 or visit www.foothillspac.org
TURKEY DINNER – 5 p.m. Order delicious Roast Turkey dinner with all the trimmings for take-out only. Includes homemade pies. Donations/Reservations required. Middlefield Baptist Church, 121 Rezen Rd., Middlefield. To order call 607-547-9093 or 607-264-8042.
GHOST TOURS – 5:30 p.m. Explore historic village by lantern light and learn about the ‘Things That Go Bump In The Night.’ Tours leave at half hour intervals to 8. For social distancing 8 people/tour. Reservation required. Recommended for people aged 10+. Cost, $17/non-member. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1534 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org
COOPERSTOWN – Every so often, Farmers’ Museum interpreter Deb Anderson will see someone sneaking a ride on the closed Empire State Carousel.
It’s not a ghost or a straggler – it’s daredevil Sam Patch, one of The Farmers’ Museum’s scarecrows, atop Bucky Beaver, the first of the carousel’s hand-carved animals.
Sam was created by the museum’s staff, part of the museum’s Celebration of Autumn, underway through Sunday, Oct. 11, in place of the usual single-weekend Harvest Fest.
Concerned about the crowd the Harvest Fest predictably draws, “we wanted to spread it out over three weeks,” said Anderson. “We have food trucks and music, a hay maze, and the staff made scarecrows for visitors to vote for their favorites.”
Because the buildings in the 19th Century country villages are too small to allow for social distancing, the interpreters have moved their demonstrations outdoors or into larger indoor spaces.
In the main barn, pharmacist Eben Williams, usually in Thrall’s Pharmacy, has set up shop in the corner, complete with his bowl of medical leeches and dried herbs harvested from the garden. In the former children’s “grow patch,” exhibit, printer Mark Simonson has set up – not the Washington Press that once printed The Freeman’s Journal – but a smaller portable press.
“It’s a little sad not having people in their buildings,” said Anderson. “But the buildings are still open and people can look inside.”
It’s also forced some of the craftsmen to learn a few more tricks of the trade.
“It’s always dark in the blacksmith’s shop, so seeing the color of the metal is difficult,” said John Patterson, village blacksmith. “I’ve been doing it long enough to figure it out, but in the shop, you never had the wind putting out your fire!”
His portable forge is set up on the Village Green, where he makes bottle openers and mantle hooks. “We had someone who wanted to buy one of his mantle hooks,” said Anderson. “He had to say, ‘We have to wait for it to cool off!’”
And though hands-on activities are minimized, kids can still pet the goats, sheep and oxen in the farm. “We’ve got plenty of hand sanitizer around for them to use afterwards,” she said. “We want to give people as much of the experience as we can.”
Frequently touched surfaces are sanitized throughout the day, masks are required and social distancing is enforced. “We want people to feel like they’re safe here, that they can bring their family,”
said Anderson. “And we find that people come and they spend all day here, because the kids can run around, they can pet the animals and they don’t have to worry about being too close to other people.”
While the Celebration of Autumn is an open event, the popular “Bump in the Night” ghost-story weekends – starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday night, Oct. 16 – 31 – will be by reservation only, with tours every half-hour in order to clean between shows.
The Candlelight Evening on Dec. 12 will also be held as a tour, rather than an open-grounds event.
“It feels like you have the whole place to yourself,” she said. “But then you look around, and there’s a lot of other people here.”
COOPERSTOWN – These days, even art plays it safe in the face of COVID-19.
To enforce mask wearing when The Fenimore Art Museum opens on Friday, July 3, Assistant Curator James Matson Photoshopped masks over several pieces from the museum’s collection, including “Laura Hall” (1808) by James Brown, and “Picking Flowers” (1840) by Samuel Miller.
“We took the artwork and utilized it for our signage,” said Todd Kenyon, communications director.
Following the announcement of the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday, June 28, The Farmers’ Museum, Fenimore Art Museum and Hyde Hall announced they would start their seasons: Hyde Hall on Wednesday, July 1; The Farmers’ and Fenimore on Friday, July 3.
“It’s been a long winter,” said Kenyon. “Everyone wants to come back, but they want to do it safely.”
Though the Fenimore postponed headlining exhibits “Keith Haring: Radiant Vision,” “Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams”, and “The World of Jan Brett” until 2020, the museum has lowered its prices to $10 for adults. “We’re hoping reduced pricing balances it out,” said Kenyon.
In the Clark Gallery, “Prismatic Beauty: American People and American Art” is on display, and
“Blue Gardens: Photographs by Gross and Daley” and
“Elegant Line/Powerful Shape: Elements of Native American Art” are also opening. Though tickets can be purchased at the door, the museum is limited to 150 visitors at a time, with strict limitations on how many can be in each gallery. “In the Clark and Thaw galleries, there can be 30 people at a time,” said Kenyon. “But smaller galleries, like the Cooper Room, have a maximum of six people.”
There is also one-way signage throughout the museum.
At The Farmers’ Museum, the entirety of the Historic Village has been closed, with only the main barn and the children’s barnyard open. “We will have interpreters in front of the Blacksmith’s shop, Pharmacy, Bump Tavern and Lippitt Homestead,” he said. “You just can’t go inside.”
With these limitations, Kenyon said, prices have been reduced to $5 for adults, $3 for kids 6-12, and under 6 free. “Even without these buildings open, we have a beautiful setting for people to come in,” he said.
Additionally, some virtual programming, including performances from the Glimmerglobe Theatre, will continue throughout the summer on the museums’ website and Facebook page.
At Hyde Hall, Executive Director Jonathan Maney used the closure to finish a series of renovations to the house, including restoring the maple stair hall in the West Wing, replacing the plaster in the third-floor billiards room, slipcovers for the high-back sofas and the ongoing restoration of the water closet, the first flush toilet west of the Hudson.
“Hyde Hall has more to offer than ever before,” said Maney. “Explore history with us and see fascinating things that you cannot find anywhere else. We are excited to share this beautiful New York treasure!”
Tickets are available by reservation only, with a maximum of six guests per tour, and masks must be worn throughout the tour.
“This is what we do,” said Kenyon. “But we want to do it safely.”