Sunday, May 1, 2016

Latest Updates This Week In The Things To Do In Beacon Guides 5-1-16

Happy May everyone! Here's a quick list of what we added to ALBB this week so you can plan ahead this Spring.  As the weather gets warmer, there will be more and more fun things to do!

  • Burger & Beer Bash: Held this year at Dutchess Stadium Thursday August 11th. Tickets on sale now!
  • City-Wide Yard Sale: Taking place June 11th all throughout Beacon
  • Bija Beacon Homestead BBQ & Art Opening:  free event featuring art from R.A. McBride
  • Howland Public Library Awards Ceremony: benefit for the Howland Public Library Savoit Fund
  • Howland Cultural Center Monthly Events: including Open Night Mic, Bridge Club, Community Chorus, May Art Exhibit and more.
All of these dates are in the Events Guide, organized by Month. Take a look for a big picture view of your month ahead!

  • Pre-Natal & Parenting classes: added to Waddle n Swaddle in Beacon
Check our Adult Classes Guide for more updates.

  • Playdates (0-3 years): Added to Waddle n Swaddle on Thursdays, 1:00-2:30 pm

Check our Kids Classes Guide for more updates.

  • Barb's Butchery: Prepare your next slow-cooked meal or sausage breakfast for the week ahead, and save 20%! Visit Barb’s Butchery's Frozen Foods ‘fridge where all frozen ribeye and sausage are 20% off.
You can always check our Restaurant Guide for the latest openings and promotions!

  • Society of Lash is our newest member “Stand Out!” sponsor, making women mysteriously more beautiful than ever!
Find more ways to pamper yourself in our full Beauty Guide

Do you have a class or workshop you would like us to consider adding? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or via email at 

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Biggest Playdate/Sale/Fundraiser Happens This Weekend: Ree-Play 2016

When you shop the Ree-Play sale, one of the biggest sales for kids clothing and toys in Beacon that is happening this weekend from Friday April 29th to Sunday May 1st from 9am to 1pm, you are directly donating to the park structures you see around town at Memorial Park, Riverfront Park, and the Green Street Park. This weekend marks the 12th year for the sale, which in the last three years alone has brought in $30,000. All proceeds go directly to the children of Beacon in the forms of new park structures for Beacon playgrounds, children's programming in Beacon through the Beacon Recreation Department, the Howland Public Library, and the Beacon Art & Education Fund which pays for the 3rd grade Calico Ball.

Last year, Wee Play used donations raised through the Ree-Play Sale to buy three shade structures for Memorial Park, two benches and a new ride-on toy.

Making this large sale happen takes forty volunteers to help sort donated items, price them, display them, and run the sale itself. Thousands of donated items are delivered daily until the final cutoff hour. During the sale day, while children are playing in the fields of the Settlement Camp and testing all of the prospective toys, high chairs, castles and clothing that can be purchased, volunteers run a bake sale that has also been provided for by community members donating cupcakes, bread and brownies.

Raquel Verdesi has been working the Ree-Play Sale for ten of the twelve years it has been running, and the project is very special to her. "Part of the magic of the sale," says Verdesi, "is that we take what others no longer want, sell it to raise money for the community, and then give the leftover books to our local school, and the other items to charities." This year, unused clothing, books and toys that are not in the best condition will be saved for Sargent Elementary School's clothing and shoe bin, one of four elementary schools in the Beacon School District, which will sell the items for "pennies on the pound", which keeps the items out of the landfill and puts aside money for an intended recycling program at that school.

Keep browsing here in our article for items you'll find at the sale, because these will sell fast! Toys that normally go for $25 at a consignment store could be marked as low as $4, so make room in your car.

Some of what you will find has never been used, and may be just what your child wanted for only $3.

Large and small items are at the Ree-Play Sale, including highchairs, walking toys, kitchens, and workbench tables.

Plan ahead for the big party or wedding. Clothing has been sorted by age group, and designer clothing from Janie and Jack, the Gap, and other coveted brands has been set aside to make it easy to find.

While it may be easier to shop without your kids, this is one venue where kids will most likely know their friends and play outside while you dive into clothing bins to stock up on seasonal clothing, refresh your bookshelf or treat them to new toys.

Have fun! Show us pictures of what you got by posting to our Facebook wall!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Coolest Cooler Ever - And Only Once Chance to Buy It At Beacon Flea

Of course we had to beeline it to the season opening of Beacon Flea last Sunday, and boy did it live up to hopes of finding treasures - and creative genius! What became evident from Beacon Flea's Instagram last year was the appearance of custom made furniture from local favorites like Keith Decent of Sixth Borough Studios and reMADE (formerly known as The Hudson Valley Maker and Artisan Cooperative).

This year there is a new guy on the scene, Robert Powchik of Powchik Woodworking from Peekskill. Robert had been a vendor at the fair a few years back, and then took the year off from Beacon while he thought about opening a shop on Etsy, or getting any other kind of online presence. Meanwhile, he'd been building and designing away, and brought several of his creations to Beacon Flea and mesmerized anyone walking by, from a woodland thrown to benches to this...the "coolest cooler ever" as we dubbed it in our Instagram last week. And we weren't alone in an instant obsession with it!

Lately in Beacon, artisans have really neat bottle openers at their homes, made by their artisan family members. Like the family duo Pergamena and Outlast Goods. Well, Outlast made a wall-mounted wooden bottle opener for Pergamena, and it's just about the greatest looking thing ever in the kitchen.

Robert has made a standing cooler on wheels (pictured above) with a built-in bottle opener with magnetic powers to catch your falling cap. Yes, that is a standard issue Igloo cooler nestled snugly into the wood build, which has a drain extension out of the wood, finished off with a metal faucet to drain the melted ice and other liquid from the cooler.

Do you need to tip the cooler? No problem! Robert installed the dish rack bar on the left side, which doubles as a bar to easily left and tip the cooler. All of this is completed with a decorative horse-shoe mount on top - or any other decoration you would like completing your cooler lid when closed. The wood has been treated to weather the outdoors, so you can use it without putting it away. Here's the best part (well, the wooden cooler is the best part in and of itself) - you can bring Robert your own plastic cooler and he'll build your wood cooler around that and knock about $25-$30 off the total sales price of the coolest cooler ever, which retails at $200.

This needs to be in your back yard. Need an excuse? Father's Day. But here's the kicker - finding Robert is tricky as he has no website, so show up at the Beacon Flea to place your order! The Beacon Flea is located behind the gas station next to the Post Office at 6 Henry Street. It's an easy walk, or there is plenty of parking.

Makers like Robert and Keith are filling the lot at Beacon Flea. While Keith may not be there this year because he's in a new retail shop on Main Street (unless he changes his mind...), other vintage collectors are selling their finds, and some of them are putting their own personal touch on them, like this small door with wrought iron hooks on it, selling for $40 - or your best offer.

Meanwhile, collectors of the classics will leave satisfied. This vintage drum-set is on the do-not-touch list and is going for $300.

Action figures from Wrestle Mania dudes to Barbie to Snow White are all here, plus boxes of sorted stuff like Matchbox cars, records, and anything you need. It will show up at Beacon Flea, which is open every Sunday from  8am-3pm. But as with a lot of markets, the only way you can buy it is to show up, making it super special.

Take pictures of your finds and tag us on Instagram #alittlebeacon! Can't wait to see what you pick up!

Latest Updates This Week In The Things To Do In Beacon Guides 4-24-16

Happy Sunday! Here's a quick list of what we added to ALBB this week so you can plan ahead this Spring.  As the weather gets warmer, there will be more and more fun things to do!

  • The Howland Cultural Center: Many events added for the remainder of April and dates in May such as their May exhibit celebrating National Asian-American Month and a playreading in July - Murder At Prisonwell Manor.
  • Meet The Candidates: A Q&A session with the candidates running for the Beacon City School District.
  • Constellation 2016 Sessions: Tours begin on May 7th with Melissa McGill. The land art project Constellation continues to light every night at sunset and launches its second season of sunset boat tours.

All of these dates are in the Events Guide, organized by Month. Take a look for a big picture view of your month ahead!

  • Come & Paint: Fundraising for the Seniors program at The Salvation Army on Main Street on April 30th, May 21st, and June 18th.
Check our Adult Classes Guide for more updates.

  • Get Frosted Cupcakery: Get Frosted Cupcakery has Sparkling Strawberry cupcakes that have...sparkles!
  • Barb's Butchery: Now has two new chicken sausages: a Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Sausage, and a new Chicken Curry Sausage.

You can always check our Restaurant Guide for the latest openings and promotions!

Do you have a class or workshop you would like us to consider adding? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or via email at 

It's Back! Beacon Farmers' Market Returns With New Access to Food and Programs

Go ahead, call it a comeback! The long-running Beacon Farmers' Market, located down at the docks by Beacon's Metro North Station just on the other side of the stairs or track as you head down to the train, is back from its extended winter and spring break. Many of our favorite vendors are returning, selling crafted items, vegetables, and prepared food, but a bushel of new elements (a food truck? live music, anyone?) takes the market to another level. Even the footprint has grown, making use of the driveway and grassy area south of the market’s traditional spot on the docks. Head down to the Metro-North station off of Red Flynn Drive to witness the Beacon Farmers' Market's next chapter. The fun resumes tomorrow, April 24, from 10am-3pm, and every Sunday.

Finding Common Ground 

The market had been year-round for years, but has been on hold since Thanksgiving while the city searched for a new market manager. The result may have been hiding in plain sight: Now running the show is Common Ground Farm, who has participated in the Beacon market since at least 2008. The farm is based just a few miles up Route 9D at Stony Kill Farm in Wappingers Falls, and has been active throughout Beacon for a long time by way of the Green Teen program and Common Greens mobile markets, donations to the Kids R Kids food program and several food pantries, a partnership with Beacon City School District, and events like the Firefly Feast. 

Common Ground's mission has always been geared toward education and food justice, but taking over the Beacon Farmers' Market wasn't originally part of the plan. Decision-makers - within Common Ground as well as with the City of Beacon - felt that there was a lot to be gained by taking advantage of the farm's organizational support and infrastructure, according to Sarah Simon, the newly named Farmers' Market Manager who's in her second season working at Common Ground. "As a nonprofit, we can bring a different mission to the market; it's an opportunity to give access."  Sarah said. The enthusiasm within the community is already there. "Beacon should have a big farmers' market,"

Education and Access 

Food insecurity is relatively high in Beacon, with many kids qualifying for reduced-price or free lunches, and seniors are also often in need. A bevy of programs at the Beacon Farmers Market seek to help out. The most important change along these lines is the market-wide acceptance of food benefits such as SNAP, EBT, and WIC. People who use these programs can swipe a card at the market to receive tokens to redeem with vendors for fruit, vegetables, meat, and other un-prepared foods, but also seeds and seedlings for plants! Sarah, the market manager, is literally just waiting for the USDA iPad to arrive in May, and this program will be ready for action. 

New York State's Fresh Connect program will kick in an additional 40%: For every $5 redeemed in SNAP benefits, the state will provide $2 on top of that to spend with farmers at the market. Additionally, Common Ground identifies people who might benefit from the "Green for Greens" program: $4 "bucks" that can be redeemed for fruit and vegetables at the market or at other sites listed on the back of the bucks. This access helps those in need get the freshest produce, of course, but it also benefits family farmers in the Hudson Valley! 

Education-oriented groups will be frequent friendly faces at the market, with a mandate to give an experience in addition to staffing a table and handing out flyers. Bija, a recent addition to Beacon's education and Pre-K programming scene, is partnering with a farm to talk with kids about responsible meat production and consumption. On May 15, market-goers will get to see a summer program showcase from a variety of organizations, such as Hudson Valley Seed, Hudson Hills Montessori, Bija, and more. Regarding higher education for the grown-ups, Sarah says, "I would love to see what the market can become as a community forum."


Most vendors from last year are returning, for a total of 34 vendors booked, with a weekly rotation of 26 vendors at tables. Main Street fave Drink More Good will be back with a whole product line, and so will former market manager Dana Devine O’Malley, showcasing her Five Hens Baked Goods - hand pies, whoopie pies, cookies, and signature marshmallows in creative flavors. Common Ground and Fishkill Farms have been market mainstays for a decade or more. Joining these anchors this year is Obercreek Farm, bookending the season, as well as Starling Yards, a farm in Red Hook that grows specialty vegetables. If they’re good enough for Blue Hill, they’re probably pretty good.

Beacon-based landscape designers One Nature will sell native plants, perennials and edibles from their nursery. Some will alternate weeks; others will have specific seasons at the market. An olive oil producer will be at the market every other week, because most people don’t need to buy it on a weekly basis. Obercreek Farm will be at the market at the sometimes-chilly beginning and end of the growing season, offering robust greens from their extensive greenhouse network.
This article is made possible in part by support from Poughkeepsie Nissan.
The new 2016 Nissan Titan XD makes for easy hauls to and from market!

For the carnivores, there will be several meat producers, and four outposts for your egg pickup. Two of the meat vendors are participants in Glynwood’s prestigious farm incubator, Back Paddock, who will offer beef and shiitake mushrooms. Grass + Grit will bring pastured pork, lamb, goat and poultry to market. 

If you'd rather pick up food to eat on the spot, you'll enjoy another new feature of the market: the regular presence of a food truck. John Lekic, owner and creative force behind Hudson Valley fave L’Express, will be selling lunch made from local products at the market.

And what meal would be complete without a little tipple? Market regulars will recognize Adair Winery’s booth, but adult beverage selections will be rounded out this year with Hudson Valley producers of hard cider, mead, and spirits.

Bring Your Dancing Shoes 

It wouldn’t be a Beacon event without some music, too. The market has teamed with Beacon Music Factory to present music every week, from 12noon to 2pm, in a wide variety of styles. The idea is to have “a music show that happens in the market, a show (emphasis on the word "show"), as opposed to just background music,” Sarah says. Fundraising efforts are under way to pay musicians. 

The Beacon love fest is evident everywhere: Hudson Valley native Daniel Wiese came up with striking new promotional designs - on a donation basis. “It reflects Beacon more than traditional farmers' market branding,” Sarah says. (Think olde-timey tomatoes and pumpkins clip art. Would that really feel like our town?) Daniel is working on the market's website, too. It's currently under construction, but fans can sign up there to receive a weekly newsletter that features vendor lineups. You'll recognize Daniel's work on another participating partner, Zero to Go, who is hosting a zero waste initiative down at the market.

New branding for Beacon Farmers's Market, designed by Daniel Wiese

Hungry yet? The Beacon Farmers' Market is open from 10a-3pm every Sunday. If eating and walking is your thing, then head on down to the market on a Sunday.  

Yet if you're ready for brunch, A Little Beacon Blog's got a guide for that, and an entire Restaurant Guide at your fingertips as you eat your way through the day. Several of the farms you'll shop from at the Beacon Farmers' Market also work with restaurants up on top of the hill in downtown Beacon, so you'll get to enjoy the fruits of their labor in both places! Take a picture of your bounty and tag us in Instagram! #alittlebeacon

Friday, April 22, 2016

Kids Get More Gardening at South Avenue Elementary with New Fence

Really, it's just so cool. When you think about public schooling, the first things that may come to mind are red tape, dysfunction, and Common Core confusion, thanks to repeated news coverage on those dramatic topics. But what is really happening inside of a lot of public schools are programs and initiatives that people have started, that get past that red tape, and work with whatever state and federal regulations that exist for the moment. Like the gardening program run by Hudson Valley Seed at each of the four elementary schools in Beacon, three elementary schools in Newburgh, and one elementary school in Garrison. This week at South Avenue Elementary School in Beacon, Hudson Valley Seed expanded the garden to add a gathering space for classes in the garden, a pollinator patch with flowers, and more growing space for vegetables. All of this with the help of a team from United Way. And you won't believe what kids get to do during their school days with this garden, which is explored in this article, in pictures!

Photo Credit: Hudson Valley Seed

About the Gardening Program for Beacon's Elementary Schools

Hudson Valley Seed educates children in school gardens, empowering students through curriculum-integrated lessons focused on healthy eating, food literacy, outdoor learning, and academic success.

Photo Credit: Hudson Valley Seed

Elementary schools in Beacon go from Pre-K to 6th Grade. In Hudson Valley Seed's program, 1st and 2nd Graders get weekly garden time, out in the garden during Spring and Fall, and in the classroom in Winter. Kindergarten, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grades also visit the garden and get indoor garden time three to six times throughout the school year.  During garden time, kids taste and learn about the vegetable of the month, and the cafeteria serves it a few different ways throughout the month. The month culminates with a school-wide taste-test in the cafeteria, which allows students to vote if they like the dish or not. Parents are even sent home a recipe to try at home. In March for St. Patty's Day, parents got a flyer with a recipe for cabbage soup.

Photo Credit: Hudson Valley Seed

Vegetables grown in the gardens outside of the schools are woven into classroom curriculum. Like this worksheet, that has a monster vegetable made up of a tomato, turnip, cabbage, squash, kale and string beans. Kids can name the creature and define its personality.

Photo Credit: Hudson Valley Seed

The New Garden at South Avenue Elementary School

At the beginning of Spring, after school each day for about a week, work began on the expanded garden. First was the delivery of mulch.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Next was the plotting out of the new beds and area for the fencing. Just days before, the new fence posts were in the back of a parked truck of a Hudson Valley Seeder, and were stolen. A plea for help when out on a Facebook group that many in the Beacon community belong to, and after several people offered to donate to replace the fence posts, the stolen posts mysteriously reappeared. #soweirdbutgreat

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Little did that thief know that a huge group of volunteers were scheduled to come from the United Way and the local community to install the fence posts. Thanks to the thief's change of heart, a lot of work commenced and was finished in a day. It was beginning to feel like it was pulled from the pages of a Nancy Drew Mystery.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Voila! New fencing is up, and the new garden is ready for adventures, imaginations and learning!

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Photo Credit: Hudson Valley Seed

To see all of the gardens at for Beacon's elementary schools, visit Hudson Valley Seed's website. There are volunteer opportunities that you can sign up for to water the gardens, and other ways to get involved.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Beacon Considers After-School Program - Will It Get Approved?

City of Beacon considers a new after-school program from the Beacon Recreation Department. Parent support is needed to help council vote to provide startup funding.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Beacon is booming with class options after school and during the day for children from private businesses run by creative types, but there is no official after-school program from the City of Beacon. Until perhaps now. Park and Recreation Director Mark Price has been listening to residents' requests for such a program, and has put together a proposal on behalf of the City of Beacon Recreation Department for a self-sustaining, "enrichment-based" after-school program for grades K-5 that can include Homework Enrichment time with themed days like Ninja Class, Cooking School, Yoga, Artists and Musicians, which he plans to present to City Council during an April 25th City Council meeting.

However, Price needs to show the council strong indication that parents will buy into the program before he is granted City money to get funding and staff to kick off the program. "This program is a big deal. It gives me goosebumps," says Price. Residents are being encouraged by Price and by Beacon's Interim Superintendent, Ann Marie Quartironi, to answer a 4-question survey about the program so that Price can have the data to analyze the level of interest he is working with. Parents are also encouraged to email support to their council representative (if you don't know what Ward you live in and who represents you, you can click here for an interactive map, and then here for a list of council members and email addresses).

Track Record of City Funding

Price's recent track record of using city funds to start a program was proven successful last summer when he received City funding to re-open Beacon's public pool, after years of being a dry, forgotten pool, overgrown by weeds at the Settlement Camp on 9D (aka Wolcott Avenue). Season passes sold out last year, and often the pool was so well attended that it maxed out and people waited on the lawn outside the pool in order to get in. So far, 100 of the 200 season passes to the pool have been sold, with day passes available, which help the public pool remain self-sustained.

Is Beacon Catching Up to Other Cities and Townships?

Fishkill has a successful after-school program that works with one of the four elementary school in Beacon, Glenham Elementary. The health club All Sport has been promoting its new after-school program with busing for kids in the Wappingers District. For Beacon parents who need busing and full-day coverage while at work or commuting, the only option is to have children bused from their respective elementary schools to a daycare center in the area. For parents who work from home or have flexible schedules, the work day ends at 3pm so that children can be picked up and taken home or to afternoon classes in other programs, like at Tri-Arts, Beacon Craft Workshop, the Howland Public Library or even to Fishkill's Recreation Center (for a list of kids classes, please see A Little Beacon Blog's Kids Classes Guide).

What Will the After-School Program Look Like?

Photo Credit: Clarice Allee
Both Price and Quartironi have expressed desire to utilize the creative talent that lives in Beacon who already offer programs to kids. Each of the three elementary schools (South Avenue, J.V. Forrestal and Sargent) will have a program within their building that is run by the Beacon Recreation Department, so that no busing is involved. Glenham already has a program with Fishkill's Recreation Department, and that will not change. It is undecided at this time if it will include kids who are "Busers", which defines kids who need to wait in designated areas of their school for their bus to take them home or to another after-school program, and often have long wait times for their bus. There will be snack time, homework encouragement time (not a formal tutoring session at this time), and then programming that could involve recess time, arts and crafts, ninja-based activities, cooking, etc.

There will be a fee of $13-$15 and will run until 6pm. Parents can select which days they sign up for, and do not need to commit to 5 days a week. It is undecided at this time if the days that can be picked can be changed as needed.

If approved, the after-school program would start in the 2016-2017 school year. "With a program like this, everyone wins" says Price, "It helps the Recreation Department get more programs and staff to run and promote those programs." Price estimates that he needs more than 105 families to participate.

If you are interested in seeing this program happen, three actions are encouraged:
  1. Take the super short survey online here.
  2. Email your Ward representative, emails of which can be found here, and if you don't know what Ward you live in, just click here and zoom in on your house and click on it.
  3. Attend the City Council meeting on April 25th, where Council Members will be looking to see how many people would actually financially buy into this program.

RELATED GUIDE: Summer Day Camp Guide for Ages 3-17 for Beacon and Hudson Valley Kids

RELATED GUIDE: Kids Classes Guide for Beacon and Hudson Valley Kids