There’s nothing like the hope of a bright future to bring to life thoughts of the past.
And what a past it was here in Sullivan County, where hundreds of resort hotels, summer camps, boarding houses, and bungalow colonies made up one of the most bustling tourist stops in the world.
Still, the decades-old dream of casino gambling is getting closer and closer to a possible reality, with two Sullivan County projects in the running for one of our region’s two future casino sites.
It seems like with each step we take forward, the deeper our need to remember times of the past. Sullivan County is bustling with memories, with organizations from east to west, north to south, putting on one “remember when” fest after another.
Just this past Sunday, the Liberty Museum & Arts Center hosted its 13th Conference, 500 Hotels! Tourism in the Sullivan County Catskills: Past, Present and Future. The full-day event included a robust list of some of the most impressive Catskill historians and storytellers.
And just a few weeks ago, the Times Herald-Record re-launched its Classic Catskills online initiative (www.classiccatskills.com), pre-gaming its 44-page special book, Inside Classic Catskills. Both the book and the website tell some of Sullivan County’s greatest “heyday” stories, and include interviews, rare photos, and memorabilia.
But it wasn’t just the resorts that made Sullivan County a place worth remembering. We also have the honor of surviving the most amazing and free-wheeling concert ever – Woodstock.
With its 45th anniversary upon us, the whole county has become wrapped in a purple haze of Woodstock mania. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and other local organizations have celebrated the 1969 Woodstock music festival’s history and its unique place in American counterculture all year. Tribute bands and exhibits and music festivals and… the list could go on forever.
The memory collecting is so strong that you can probably find another dozen Woodstock- or Borscht Belt-related events on our calendar (www.catskillsocial.com) nearly every weekend through the end of the year.
Still, while memories of Sullivan County’s tourism-centric past still linger, we as a community need to remember to also stay focused on supporting our region’s future by standing behind both of the Concord projects. Casino applicant presentations will take place over the course of three days in Albany, beginning on Sept. 8. The interest is so high that the New York State Gaming Commission has even made arrangements to stream the presentations live on its website (www.gaming.ny.gov).
Either casino (although we still have our hopeful fingers cross for BOTH) would bring in top-tier performers, boost the economy with direct and indirect jobs, and become a massive contributor to the future of Sullivan County’s tourism industry.
It would be like Sullivan County’s homecoming – only better.