Monday, July 6, 2015

Fancy Food Truck: Beacon Bite Delights for Sit Down or Take-Away

If you are an avid reader of the Fancy Nancy series, you should know that "fancy", when used to describe Beacon Bite's ever-changing menu, is a fancy word for "delicious, exciting, unexpected."

The bright red food truck named Beacon Bite, took over the empty corner lot at 416 Main Street with its full-menu mobile food business concept. It put out a few picnic tables with brightly colored umbrellas to shelter people on foot who have not been deterred by this season's rain. Speaking of rain, the rain is adding to the lush menu of Beacon Bite, who sources produce and meat from neighboring farms like Sprout Creek for hanger steak and Common Ground for dill and nasturtiums, and businesses like Drink More Good for the purest sugar and herb soda.

Driving by the big red truck with white lights creating ambiance was totally different than sitting down at a picnic table eating our selections. A Pandora or Spotify list of Leonard Cohen calm but deeply inspired music permeates from the speakers somewhere inside the truck, making the dining experience all the more artful.

So let's get to the food: first of all, I ordered for myself and two of my small kids. It was 5:30pm and we had just come from the Beacon Pool and we were very hungry and not functioning at full capacity. The menu is a foodie's paradise, which for kids can be tricky. We went with the potatoe wedge fries (total hit, should have ordered two), fried chicken (another hit after I told the kids it was chicken tenders), and the lettuce wraps which my daughter faked me out on, claiming for 2 weeks that she now likes salad. I ate them all.

If you are a clean eater, you will love Beacon Bite. If you are a vegetarian or a carnivore, you will also love Beacon Bite. The menu keeps you on your toes not only because it is fresh, but because it changes weekly. True to the name, the portions are bite-sized. The fried chicken, for example, was served sliced into several thin pieces with chopsticks.

Drink-wise, you'll need to wait for your beer or wine and have it later at Draught or Oak Vino, as there is no beer here. But there is Drink More Good soda root beer and other flavors like lemon lime made fresh on the spot just for you. If you are a ketchup lover, you will need to BYOK (bring your own ketchup). Living in a foodie town has started to mean that restaurants who value real food also don't offer ketchup, or they make it themselves (The Hop), which for kids is a little...different. So pack some ketchup packets in your purse or pocket.

Otherwise, enjoy your meal with freshly cut flowers from a local farm and "lettuce" know what you loved! Generally, Beacon Bite is open from Thursday - Sunday, and you should check their Facebook page for current hours, as they vary per day.

Friday, July 3, 2015

4th Of July In Beacon 2015! Things To Do This Weekend!

The 4th of July Holiday Weekend has started! While it may be hot and humid for the Friday, the first day of the long weekend, July 4th itself may be a little rainy, followed by sunshine again on Sunday. So think extra sunny thoughts to keep those clouds away! This roundup is an enhancement of the weekend events that are also listed in A Little Beacon Blog's Annual Events Guide, which is part of the Things To Do In Beacon Guide.

Here's a breakdown of things to do in and around Beacon this July 4th weekend:
Looks like someone read the Farmer's Almanac and decided to have Fireworks on the 3rd, which is nice for those who like to double-dip in nights with sparklers. There is a whole big fireworks list at 101.5 WPDH of where you can see fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights up and down the Hudson River. If you're in or near Beacon, you may want to hit up:

Day: Friday July 3rd at Dusk
Where: East Fishkill Recreation Park, New York 82 & New York 376 Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
Time: Starts at 7 p.m. with an oldies concert featuring Adam & the NewHearts. Fireworks will go off at 9:15 p.m.

Day: Friday July 3rd at Dusk
Time: Starts at 6 p.m.
Where: Town of Wallkill Golf Club, 40 Sands Road, Middletown, NY 10940

Day: Saturday July 4th at Dusk
Where: Memorial Park, 7 Robert Cahill Drive, Beacon, NY 12508
Time: 3pm till dark.
What: Presented once again by a collaborative community effort by the City of Beacon, Beacon-Fishkill Kwanis Club, The Costellos and I Am Beacon. Bring the whole family to enjoy! Fireworks begin at dusk. A ceremonial reading of the Declaration of Independence happens at 11am at City Hall.

Mohonk Mountain House
Address: 1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz, NY 12561
Admission Price: Call (855) 883-3798 for reservations.
Details: Mohonk Mountain House’s 4th of July weekend will include demonstrations at the Firehouse, a carnival at its Kids’ Club, a log roll and porch dive, and a parade. Mohonk will hold its Illumination of the Mountain fireworks display on July 4th. The weekend events also include a live performance by Cathi Lou and Roger Thorpe and a ceremonial reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Time: 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Address: Waryas Park, 1 Main Street, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Admission Price: Free for a view from a public place, and $12.50 at Walkway Over the Hudson; Free at Waryas Park
Details: A bit of a drive, but the views are pretty great. The City of Poughkeepsie’s annual fireworks spectacular on July 4th can be viewed either from Waryas Park (free of charge) or from up on the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park).
More details

West Point
Time: 8 p.m.
Address: Trophy Point, West Point NY
Details: People who want to feel deeply historic often enjoy fireworks at West Point. Additionally, The West Point Band will present its annual Independence Day celebration with music followed by a fireworks display over the Hudson River. It's kind of emotional.

Stay hot, please! If you need to cool off and take a dip, you have several options!

Beacon's New Community Pool - Friday, 3pm
Pool Party on Friday at 3pm! The pool is open for the first time in 6 years, and there is a party for it. The pool is easy to get to and swim in, with a shallow end of 2ft deep that gradually gets deeper to 8ft. Plenty of picnic green space surrounds the pool. See our article about it here, and get thee to the pool. Day passes are available if you don't have a season pass yet. Located at the University Settlement Camp, 724 Wolcott Avenue aka 9D.

Splash Down Water Park
If you've been longing for the days of your childhood when you climbed tall towers with an inner tube to slide down a really big slide, then Splash Down is for you. If you want to float down their Lazy River with your family, then Splash Down is for you. If you even wanted to rent a private cabana situation with waiter service and pretend you are on a beach when you are actually lounging next to Rt. 9, you could even do that too. Located on 16 Old Route 9 West in Fishkill, just off Rt. 9.

Sprinklers at Bowdain Park. Free.
Bowdoin Park
Perhaps one of the most beautiful public parks in the Hudson Valley, Bowdoin Park offers a sprinkler water system to run through (kids and adults!), a giant rock that kids love to climb, and an impressive set of jungle gym setups, donated by various businesses in the region. Pack a watermelon, snacks, and even a full picnic to grill out on grills in the picnic areas. Located at 85 Sheafe Rd.
Learn more

Beacon River Pool in the Hudson River
The Beacon River Pool is a circular pool that floats on the Hudson River and is connected to the shore. River pools were common in early New York history, and experiencing one is very special. There are benches all around and the floor is a thick net. It's a little odd at first, but very relaxing. Even if you are swimming with kids. It's free, so take a dip!
Learn more

All Sport's 3 Pools
If you don't feel like packing a lunch and you'd like to order some grill food and a beer, then the All Sport Pool is a fit for you. They have a kiddie pool, a family pool, and a pool dedicated to older adults who love to play water volleyball and other water sports. Day passes are available.
Learn more
Editorial Note: All Sport is a sponsor of A Little Beacon Blog, but this mention is not sponsored and is an editorial recommendation.

Artisan Wine shared their
summer wine picks for
different occasions.
Pack wine and beer, and revisit our Summer Wine Picks with recommendations from Artisan Wine! This list is from last year, but if you go in this year they may have different brands for you to try depending on the type of picnic or BBQ you are having.

No time to pack a picnic from scratch? Pick up cheeses, pre-made odds and ends or order to go! Here are a few recommendations:

BJs: Deep fried chicken and mac cheese. Also get collared greens and other soul food selections. Across the street from the M&T bank.

Beacon Bite Food Truck: Order a to-go basket of very fine fare. Recently off the grill have been chilled poached squid, charred chilli cabbage, nasturtium dill butter, and jalapeƱo. Woa. Located at 416 Main Street just past the middle of town.

Beacon Bite is in the middle section of
Main Street and in the same lot as
Beacon Pie Company's bike stand.
Raddish: A clean-eater's delight! With meat! Raddish is obsessed with...raddishes, lettus and green things from the ground. Order grilled chicken or tuna to top your salad. NOTE: Closed early on Saturday July 4th at 2pm. Located at 505 Main Street, at the far east end near the mountain.

Tito Santana Taqueria: A great space for easy ordering of fresh, cilantro based corn salads, tacos, quesadias, chips, and summer beer. Has a large outdoor space with plenty of picnic tables for indoor or outdoor eating.

Harry's Hot Sandwiches: Beacon's newest sandwich shop! A great take-away option. Look for serious sandwiches like the Chimichurri Roast Beast, and soups like a Black Bean Arepa. Loated at 449 Main Street, right next to the very large Beacon Theatre.

BJ's also scores big points for having lots of mini-pies on demand. These are your basic pies, like apple, cherry, and sweet potato. We blogged about BJ's pies a few summers ago.

Beacon Pie Company: And then an official pie company came to town and they even deliver pie on bikes! Otherwise you can find them parked next to Beacon Bites, and sometimes there are a few pies in Barb's Butchery. You'll find flavors like Salted Honey Butter, and Chocolate Lavendar from their sweet list, and also pot pies, quiches, and shepherd’s pie on their savory menu.

Will you be hiking this weekend? Do read our special hiking series for Family Friendly Hikes from the Cronins with your little people, and the Historical Hikes from Dylan Price to inspire your history hungry mind as you hike!
A walk to Earl's Chimney with the Cronin Family.

The view from Mt. Beacon.
Dylan Price remembers a history you can walk through.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WINNER! of the "Where Is This" Photo Contest: Hint: "Sit, dog."

We have a winner!

Majolie of Beacon guessed this mystery photo correctly as the chair inside the door of Dogwood! Definitely check out Dogwood if you haven't yet for delicious food with both meat and vegan options, and hit-the-spot beer and signature cocktails.

Majolie is the winner of this lovely basket of Summer Soaps from SallyeAnder!

Thank you to our sponsor StudioPixelated who helps small businesses with their digital marketing needs in social media, Google, and website design direction! See their Monthly Tip here.

This week's prize is from SallyeAnder and is a Summer Basket
of Sallye Sunshine, Gardener's Hand, No Bite Me Cream,
No Bite Me Bar, and Lakeshore.

"Where Is This Photo?" Guess The Mystery Photo and Win a Prize! Hint: "Sit, dog."

[EDITED 7/1/15 5:30pm] We have a Winner! A reader named Majolie correctly identified the photo and the photo of what this actually is can be found here!

WHAT is this a picture of and WHERE was it taken? Answer both of these questions right and you can win the prize of amazing soap made right here in Beacon from SallyeAnder! See the rules below before you submit your answer! Keep guessing until you get it right!

This week's prize is from SallyeAnder and is a Summer Basket
of Sallye Sunshine, Gardener's Hand, No Bite Me Cream,
No Bite Me Bar, and Lakeshore.

Sit, dog."

- The Winning Entry must be made in the Comments below, and not at any social media channel.
- You must identify WHERE this picture was taken, and WHAT the picture is.
- First right answer wins!
- Prize must be picked up by the winner within two weeks of winning.
- Winners must wait 30 days before entering another contest.

Be the sponsor of the next contest!

StudioPixelated: Tip of the Month for Digital Strategy and Website Planning (Sponsor)


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Your Instagram account is one of the most visually stimulating ways of attracting new customers, and reminding current customers to buy from you. If you have a storefront, include your street address in your Instagram bio. That way, when you post a picture of delicious food or a must-have fashion item, people who click on your Instagram account to learn more about your business will see your street address right away, and walk on down!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fill 'Er Up! The Beacon Pool at the Settlement Camp is Happening!

EDIT: The pool is full! Day and Season Passes
are selling, and the Pool Party on July 3rd was fun!

The Beacon Pool drained, clean and being filled with
fresh water. New black fencing has been installed.

Rumors of the resurgence of the Beacon Pool at the Settlement Camp have been swirling for years, and even in the month of June 2015, the projected opening date of the pool, people were still asking: "Is the pool really opening?"

To find our own answers, we sent a camera crew out to the site one weekend, unannounced, to see if the pool was really on track. Note: the camera crew was myself and my sleeping son in his car seat, with Frisbee disk gamers barely noticing our unexpected activity near the course.

Over the years, various individuals tried to help it make a comeback with deflated attempts and membership price-points, so you can imagine everyone's skepticism at it really happening. However, we discovered a major clue that the pool was on track: new picnic benches, freshly cut and bolted, were lined up side by side, awaiting placement.

New picnic benches at the Beacon Pool to accommodate
large crowds who can bring their own food.

So I got on the phone with Mark Price, the City of Beacon's Recreation Director, and asked him my tough reporter question: "Is there any chance that the pool won't open?" Mark was giddy in his answer. "It's opening! On Monday, June 29th it will be open! We need to wait to drain the pool until closer to the open date, but we are replacing the fence and dusting everything off."

Beacon's pool has quite the courtyard wrapping around it and almost feels like you're at an English estate or in the woods in an Alice in Wonderland scene with strange creatures lurking under mossy stones. In fact, you may encounter a snake or two, as young teenagers have recalled to me from their early days of going to the pool in the summer and loving it. To add to the pastoral experience, The Green Teen Team has planted 200 sunflowers on the uphill side of the property, near the Maintenance Building.

The courtyard at the Beacon Pool immediately in front of the pool.

The picture above is the courtyard immediately in front of the pool. There is another courtyard to the left of the pool, and all of that is available to the public to enjoy. You can bring your own food and drink, and Mark has dreams of hosting food trucks. In fact, Mark has given us permission to tell you that he has visions of a "juried showcase" of different food vendors, and to contact him if you're interested. Which is really exciting because the food scene in Beacon is so good!

Don't you want to stroll down this yard in English attire?
Or play rugby or croquet?

So why this year for the pool? Mark credits the healthy economy. "Municipal budgets have recovered, so purse strings got loser. As a country, things are coming back a bit." As noted by Mayor Casale in a recent press release, the opening of the pool is happening because of joint efforts by the City Council and other city departments working together.

A picture of the pool in Spring 2015...making us wonder
if it would open. Weeks later, that murky water was gone,
the pool cleaned, weeds picked, and fence was replaced.
This year the pool has filled up so to speak, with a lot of registered interest. As of early June, 120 families had registered, and various kid camps had signed on to host a day or two a week at the pool. "It has been heartbreaking to watch the pool not being used." Which is all about to change this Summer of 2015. The Beacon Riverfest is also hosting a concert there on July 11th for an official "Pool Party" with the band PONTOON playing.

Lying under the trees, floating by on the water, this is your view
when you look up at the sky, relaxed.

Pool season passes are $50 for adults, $30 for children, and $100 for the family, with day passes available for $3 for adults and $2 for children and seniors. The registration form is here for download. The Beacon Pool is located at the Park at University Settlement Camp, 724 Wolcott Avenue. The pool itself is 140 feet by 50 feet and progresses in depth from 2 feet to 8 feet deep making it perfect for swimmers and water lovers of all ages. There will not be a lap lane, just a "have fun pool". On Friday, July 3rd, 2015 at 12:00 noon there will be a Big Splash Pool Opening Celebration. Take pictures of your fun times and share them with us on Instagram! Tag @alittlebeacon and use the hashtag #beaconnypool.

Keep your eyes peeled for the "Entrance" sign for the
Beacon Pool on 9D! The entrance is just one dirt road
in the middle of the woods.
[UPDATED 7/6/15]
The Hours of the Beacon Pool are:
TUESDAY: 12pm to 7pm
WEDNESDAY: 3pm to 7pm
THURSDAY: 3pm to 7pm
FRIDAY: 12pm to 7pm
SATURDAY: 12pm to 7pm
SUNDAY: 12pm to 7pm

PS: The title of this post was inspired in part by Dan Aymar-Blair.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

An Interview with Melissa McGill, Artist Behind "Constellation" on Bannerman Island

A rendering of the Constellation, the project of artist Melissa McGill. Melissa talks with A Little Beacon Blog about the project.
Bannerman Castle has been a point of mystery for everyone who passes it on the Metro-North's Hudson Line train on their way through the Hudson Valley, or by those on boat or kayak. It’s a personal discovery for each person who gazes unbelievably at what seems to be a sinking castle on an island.

And what is this island? Indeed its history is just as exciting, and involves usage by tribes, patriots, prostitutes, fisherman, bootleggers, and vandals. In the early 1900’s, Francis Bannerman, a Scottish-born business man from Brooklyn who at a young age began collecting scrap from the harbor which was then filled with ships, made a business of buying and selling surplus stock from government auctions. He moved his arms collection from Manhattan to Pollepel (or Polopel) Island, forced out of the city due to laws on ammunition storage. He went north to build a Scottish-inspired castle, Bannerman Castle, to hold his arms collection, the ammunition room of which blew up in 1920. In the 1970s, a fire with flames 20 feet high devoured Bannerman’s warehouse, leaving the castle ruins we pass by today, the dramatic view of which was increased after a partial collapse in 2009 (there is an organization dedicated to preserving the castle by creating events and gardens should you wish to donate).

Local artist Melissa McGill was captivated by the location and the history. In her career as an artist, Melissa explores what is and what is absent. She wanted to apply this study to the island, the castle, and pieces of the castle that no longer exist. She envisioned that points of light could glow above pieces of the castle that are now missing. Melissa is the most recent architect on this island - an architect of light and space - stars - that shine above the castle as a new constellation starting at dusk of every evening.

Even though Melissa makes art of all kinds - paint, sculpture, sound installations - this project could be the largest and most visual representation of her fascination of what is and is not in the spaces in between absence and presence. She became a director and producer of the project, working with other local artists like Niche Modern to build the lights, and worked with The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to secure what was needed to make this project a reality for launch in June 2015.

Intrigued by her role as an artist in this project, we thought Melissa a great role model for children and adults who yearn to be artist but don't know how, or who need to give themselves permission to be their own type of artist. Melissa was kind enough to answer some questions about her captivating Constellation project in this interview with us below.

Melissa McGill, architect of the Constellation Project at Bannerman Castle on Polopel Island
Why did this idea occur to you? To build the stars?
Like so many who travel and live along the Hudson River, I’ve had a long fascination with the mysterious castle ruin and this island.  As I investigated its history and re-imagined its present, I was moved to create a project that continues my work exploring the space between absence and presence, bringing to light the overlooked, hidden, or lost aspects of architecture, found objects, and places. The sculptural poles of Constellation reference the lines of the castle ruin and through the star-like points of lights hovering above, a new constellation is created conceptually connecting our world with others. I look up at the stars for inspiration, for a sense of reality, to remember how small we are in the universe, and to feel how we are all one under these stars.

I wanted to ask you about your type of artistic medium, and how as an artist, you are directing a project and don't necessarily touch everything that is being made by hand. I loved seeing the pictures of the glass blowers making the stars. So for budding artists, it's an example to show them and their parents the different types of artistry that can exist. So I suppose the question is - in this project, are you an artist who is not physically making things, but you are leading the construction of an idea?
My work involves an interdisciplinary process, primarily incorporating drawing, sculpture, and sound. I make a lot of work in my studio. When ideas require specific expertise that I don't have, I work with others who have that expertise so the work may be realized. Regarding the glassblowing...While I do have some experience with glass blowing and have made other work in blown glass, the globes that house the LED's had to be very high quality and luckily Niche Modern here in Beacon specializes in exactly what I needed. They were amazing to work with and they very generously donated the globes for the project. A project the size of Constellation requires a lot of expert experience in many areas…fabricators, architects, engineers, installers, lighting designers…the list goes on. Almost every single person on the Constellation team lives in this area and I am involved in every step of the process.

What did you need to go through legally to get this done, and how long did that take?
Pollepel Island with the Bannerman Castle ruin is located in the Hudson Highlands State Park so I worked closely with NYSOPRHP (New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation throughout Constellation's 3 year process). Constellation had a full environmental assessment through NY State, a NY State Archaeological Review, and NYSOPRHP executed a permit.

Financially, did this come together through different grants and/or donations? How did you approach and accomplish that?
I raised the funding independently through many channels- by crowdfunding, applying for grants and being persistent. A number of wonderful supporters taught me a lot about fundraising. Fractured Atlas is my fiscal sponsor and this is a non-profit public art work and so all donations are tax- deductible. I am so deeply grateful to Constellation's generous supporters. They have helped transform this project from a dream to reality. I still have quite a bit to raise to close the funding gap to cover installation and production. It's an on-going process and donations of support are appreciated!

The project is set to launch this weekend, June 28th. Boat tours will be offered to those curious enough for an up-close experience of this new magical constellation. Watch the video about the project here or follow along on the project's Facebook page for news and updates.

Constellation from Melissa McGill on Vimeo.