Displaying items by tag: saratoga springs
SARATOGA SPRINGS — In addition to being at the forefront of Skidmore’s COVID-19 pandemic response, members of the College’s Health Services staff have been helping to administer coronavirus vaccines to front-line health care workers, educators and other eligible vaccine candidates in the local community.
The College has worked closely with Saratoga County Public Health Services (SCPHS) — and in accordance with the latest New York state and Centers for Disease Control guidance — in developing and implementing comprehensive health and safety measures on campus.
The Skidmore Health Services team has been vital to organizing COVID-19 surveillance testing, quarantine and isolation, and contact tracing efforts.
Six members of the Health Services team also serve in the county Medical Reserve Corps, which supports disaster relief groups, community safety organizations, emergency medical services and community public health efforts.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “Nothing bears any resemblance to past seasons,” says Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The SPAC campus first opened on a July night in 1966 when it welcomed to the stage the New York City Ballet. A few hours downstate, Mickey Mantle hit a home run in each game of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators at Yankee Stadium, and all across America, The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” dueled with Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In The Night” for a spot at the top of the charts.
In ballparks, across broadcast networks and atop performance stages, last summer was like no other, preceded by a distress of unpredictability over what could happen. Looking ahead to the upcoming summer, that still unpredictable aura has seemingly transformed into what can possibly be.
“This time last year – March, April, May – when it was clear what was going to end up happening – we started asking ourselves the question: Who and What is SPAC when you can’t use the amphitheater?” Sobol says.
Currently, there have been “regular and very fruitful conversations with all our resident companies,” she explains, referring to the New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. “There is a huge effort going across many different organizations, because we all know how important it is to have some presence by these companies up here. We’re committed to having all of them in Saratoga and they’re committed to being here in some way, shape or form.”
SPAC also plays host to the annual Saratoga Jazz Festival, Opera Saratoga, and a summerlong staging of pop concerts presented by Live Nation, as well as the annual Saratoga Wine and Food Festival and an additional slate of imaginative programming. Right now, what form they will take: “Nobody knows yet,” Sobol says. Still, preparations are underway. And there have been a multitude of things learned.
“We learned so much about so many things. It gave us time and quiet to contemplate things we normally don’t have time to contemplate. The last year has honed our skills living with the jaws of uncertainty wide open, 24/7, and it’s forced us to not take anything for granted.”
Showing its merits beyond an oft-misplaced public perception as being solely a site for an amphitheater, SPAC exhibited its mettle as a holistic organization with a series of community collaborations alongside cultural agencies and the business community, as well as continuing its outreach in the world of education – where in 2019 alone it served 50,000 students around the Capital Region and worked with more than 120 local schools and non-profit organizations to present more than 400 unique classes, events, performances, and presentations.
“We started asking ourselves: How can we provide experiences that bring people together around beauty, rather than pushing them apart. That kind of informed everything we did: let’s look at our campus like a blank canvas and all the opportunities and possibilities we have here. So along with that question of who and what is SPAC when the amphitheater stage is dark, is also the question of how we can best serve art, artists and the community.”
On campus meanwhile, the organization last summer unveiled The Pines at SPAC. The new 4,000 square foot indoor/outdoor, year-round education and community events space features a pavilion and a terrace where some small gathering events may take place. While it is a structure much of the public has not yet seen, The Pines has been used to host more than 200 events since late last summer, 50 people maximum capacity at a time, and the grounds have also featured things such as dance classes, wellness classes, a teaching space for healing arts practitioners, and the launching of Culinary Arts at SPAC events.
A “Soundwalk” project was also initiated, merging performance and programming that takes audiences more into nature. “An embracing of our place in the natural world in a much more direct and celebratory way is going to be a big piece for us moving forward,” Sobol says. “Anything we could do using our rigorous COVID protocols and procedures to create a safe space for people to gather outdoors and do the things they needed to do for their soul. So, we now have a blueprint for doing things on a very small scale, for being flexible and agile. It honed a lot of skills for us.”
SPAC’s summer ballet gala will be re-imagined in 2021. “It’s not going to be a massive event with hundreds of people at the Hall of Springs on the lawn, but now that we know we can replicate these events – let’s say it’s for 50 people - maybe we’ll do 5 or 10 of them. We now have that blueprint, and we can execute that pretty nimbly,” she says. A culinary concept that has to do with ballet history is also being put together for a limited capacity gathering in 2021, and possibilities of having “rolling audiences” – that is, a few hundred people being rotated into the grounds at any one time – are being considered as a way to stage the summer Jazz Fest.
“We’re looking at every possible option so that if things are still very restrictive, we can accommodate that, and if they are looser we can accommodate that too,” Sobol says.
“‘All of these things are things we’re all working on together – how to bring companies to Saratoga, finding ways to perform that are safe for the audience and the performers and the crew, and also models that are financially viable for us and for them.”
Promoter Live Nation will have its own decisions to make regarding the summer pop season. More than one dozen scheduled shows are slated to take place from mid-July through September, featuring artists such as Rod Stewart, Hall & Oates, Maroon 5, Backstreet Boys, and Alanis Morissette, among others. A phone call to Live Nation seeking comment for this story was not returned.
As far as capacity in the amphitheater, a 10% max limit recently imposed on large venues by Gov. Cuomo would keep the audience inside the pavilion to 500 people, although those percentage numbers could fluctuate depending on vaccine roll-out and COVID-19 infection rates. SPAC being an amphitheater – a somewhat open building with an attached outdoor lawn – the stipulations specific to the venue are not clear.
“We are working on a regular basis with the governor’s office to talk about what amphitheaters look like, what that’s going to be, but imagine if we’re still at 10%,” Sobol says. “Even if we do use the lawn, we’re still limited to 500 people in the amphitheater. If they don’t give us a percentage but say we have to limit according to the six-foot rule, then that would limit us to about 1,200 people. It has enormous financial implications. And none of us knows right now. Trying to plan for July and August when we don’t even know when vaccinations are going to be widely available is tough,” she added.
SPAC is a 501(c)3 charitable organization with an annual operating budget of about $10 million. To normally meet that budget, about $5 million in revenue is generated from ticket sales, rent paid by promoter Live Nation which stages the summer pop concerts, and other miscellaneous sources. The other $5 million must largely be raised through SPAC memberships, charitable donations and corporate underwriting.
When programs were first cancelled last May and June, SPAC projected a $1.3 million shortfall, “but the community really rose up and was so generous that we ended up able to end the year in the black, so there’s tremendous gratitude around the generosity of the community,” Sobol says. “But at the same time, 2021 is going to be a lot more perilous for us, because we didn’t have the (high) costs last year. We are committed to major resident companies, so support at SPAC for this year is going to be even more important than it was last year.
“Most of our planning is done years in advance and right now what we have is about 50 plates juggling in the air waiting for a moment – which will probably be sometime in early April - to say this is our best bet of what three months is going to look like, because we’ve got to basically have 90 days between the time we pull the trigger on something, and we have our first performances. That’s an absolute minimum,” Sobol says.
“It’s also about the perception. There are more and more studies out there that ask, ‘Do I dare go out into an environment where there are hundreds or thousands of people?’ That’s the big quotient we can’t predict: behavior.”
Ultimately, SPAC is planning to actively showcase all its resident companies in 2021. “We just don’t know what that’s going to look like,” Sobol says. “Is it in the amphitheater at vastly reduced capacities? Is it in some other performance space – because if we’re seriously limited then we may have to look at some other spaces. But, we are committed to having the musicians and the dancers here in some capacity.”
Walking around a farmers’ market, you see tables neatly displayed with mountains of produce. There is a long journey before produce lands on market tables and then, eventually, your table. Farmers are on a tight schedule to do all they can to make sure their crops flourish. Now that we are deep into winter, we asked local farmers how they are preparing for this year’s growing season.
Laurie Kokinda, owner of Kokinda Farm, says, “It’s the hardest time of year, in terms of grunt work.” Farms are working tirelessly to sanitize their greenhouses and tunnels and repair and order new equipment. Farms are starting their first seedings like tomatoes, alliums, and head lettuce. This year, many farmers ordered their seed supply earlier than usual due to Coronavirus-related increases in demand as well as mail delays. Paul and Sandy Arnold, owners of Pleasant Valley Farm, note, “Normally, we can get seeds in the day after we order. This year, we’re waiting weeks!”
Local farms often choose to work together to share resources. Pleasant Valley Farm’s Sustainable Farmers’ Network Group is hard at work in the mid-winter, bulk-ordering supplies so that farms may share discounts. Gomez Veggie Ville works with Denison Farm to get this year’s supply of organic potato seeds. And, for the first time, they will work to grow ginger. “I am learning how to grow ginger well in our climate. Hopefully, if it works out, we’ll be able to bring some to the market in September,” says Efrain Gomez.
Owl Wood Farm is taking this year’s seed shortages as an opportunity to try a new practice: seed saving. “We’ve wanted to save seeds that aren’t offered commercially, like tomato heirloom varieties and Abenaki flint corn, for a while. It involves a lot of work and isn’t very economical; you have to dedicate a new plot of land and grasp a whole new knowledge base,” says Mark Bascom. “But we see that seed saving is important this year especially.”
Squash Villa Farm (formerly Squashville) is trying not just a new crop or practice but also a whole new land plot after moving farms in 2020. “There’s lots of anticipation! As soon as the snow melts, I’m eager to walk the new land and just get a feel for what it’s like to step into the soil,” says Gupta-Carlson.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Find us online at saratogafarmersmarket.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. For online pre-ordering and curbside pickup, visit localline.ca/saratoga-farmers-market.
With The Big Game quickly approaching, football fans might be thinking about the field, but we’re all looking forward to the snacks!
The array of creamy dips, bite-sized snacks, and decadent desserts are certainly something to anticipate, even for those who aren’t big sports fans. Appetizers and finger food are the traditional spread for most, making for easy snacking between plays or the much-anticipated commercials. The Saratoga Farmers’ Market has options to meet all your snacking needs for next Sunday. Get your shopping done at the Saturday market to incorporate fresh, locally made ingredients into your Sunday spread.
Whether you are cooking for a crowd or keeping it lowkey this year, we put together a few recipes that are sure to impress, using fresh ingredients from the market. And for the hardcore football fans looking forward to more traditional snacks, you can, of course, pick up plenty of wings or spinach and cheese for artichoke dip at the market too!
Kick off the game with some savory and sweet fried pickles. Mix 1 cup flour with 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp Cajun spice, and ½ tbsp cayenne pepper. Preheat an air fryer to 400. Grab 2 cups of your favorite flavor of pickles from Puckers Gourmet (we’re using the Dilly Sweet pickles, but you can substitute whatever you like) and coat with the flour mixture. Place in a single layer in the fryer and spray with olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes, then flip and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.
BUFFALO GOAT CHEESE BALLS
If you’re craving something cheesy and a little unique, make some fried buffalo goat cheese balls. Add ⅓ cup of flour and a pinch of pepper to a medium bowl. Add one large beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of water to a separate shallow bowl. Add 1 ½ cups of panko breadcrumbs to another medium-sized bowl. Then your favorite flavor of goat cheese from Nettle Meadow or R&G Cheesemakers and roll it into 20-24 balls. Roll each ball in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture, and then cover in the panko mixture. Place the balls on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes or until firm. Then heat 1-2 cups of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the goat cheese balls in batches for 1-2 minutes until crispy brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined surface. Serve hot with spicy buffalo dip from Argyle Cheese Farmer!
For dessert, try making apple nachos, which are easy to customize to your taste and perfect if you’re looking for something a little lighter after all the afternoon snacking. Just cut Fuji apples (or apple of choice) from Saratoga Apple into thin slices and arrange on a plate. Then drizzle about ¼ cup of melted peanut butter (we’re using Plain Jane creamy from Saratoga Peanut Butter Company) and ¼ cup of melted semi-sweet chocolate over the apples. Top with a handful of chocolate chips or some granola to serve.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Find us online at saratogafarmersmarket.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. For online pre-ordering and curbside pickup, visit localline.ca/saratoga-farmers-market.
• Approximately 300,000 doses per week are anticipated to be received by the state from the federal government for distribution. Additionally, a new federal government program will supply private pharmacies in New York with an additional 30,000 doses per week.
• Statewide: Approximately 2 million vaccine doses have been administered and of those nearly 20% of those vaccinated have received both doses. Locally, more than 22,000 Saratoga County residents have received one dose of COVID vaccine, and more than 5,000 Saratoga County residents have received both doses. In all, this accounts for more than 12% of county residents having been administered at least one dose of COVID vaccine.
• 7.1 million of a total population of 15 million New Yorkers are eligible for vaccines right now. Local governments may now add restaurant workers to vaccine eligibility lists. That call to add is up to local governments, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week.
• The COVID infection rate in Saratoga County this week dropped to a weekly rolling average of 4%. This is down from a peak high of 11% on Jan. 7 and signifies the lowest infection rate in the county since the days immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday.
• Hospitalizations: The percentage of hospital beds available, and percentage of ICU beds available in the eight-county Capital Region of which Saratoga is a part, each remain among the worst in the state, as has been the case for the past several weeks.
• The county has a hold agreement with the Saratoga Springs City Center so the building may be used as a mass vaccination center when sufficient amounts of vaccine have been obtained. That determination will be made by county Public Health officials and at this time a date has yet to be targeted for its use.
• Important to know: After being notified of an unexpected increase in vaccine allocation, Saratoga County has recently focused on vaccinating seniors, both at county public health and directly at people’s homes. Many of those who were vaccinated came from the county’s Special Needs Registry. That registry includes county residents or caregivers of an individual with special needs such as mobility impairment, developmental disability, major respiratory illness, etc. County residents or caregivers of an individual with special needs may fill out the Special Needs Registry Application form accessible via: saratogacountyny.gov.
Local COVID Rates Drop, Hospital Capacity Increases,
County to Decide on Potential Return of High-Risk Sports
BALLSTON SPA — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Jan. 22 that as of February 1, high-risk school sports had been given the green light to return as long as certain conditions were met and that the decision would be left up to individual county health departments.
Among those sports believed to fall under the high-risk category in New York State are football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, basketball, contact lacrosse, volleyball, martial arts, competitive cheer. There are one dozen school districts in Saratoga County with 1,100 school winter athletes.
Among the conditions was a community COVID-19 positivity rate of 4% or under. At the time of the governor’s announcement, the seven-day rolling average infection rate in Saratoga County was 7.4%.
On Jan. 29 – when the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors announced it was approving higher-risk K-12 sponsored school sports to resume on Feb. 1 in conjunction with similar conditions, that average rate of infection had fallen to 4.7%. and on Feb. 3 had fallen to 4% – the first time it had done so in Saratoga County since Dec. 2, when the post-Thanksgiving Day infection surge was on its rise. The infection rate had previously been at or near, and often below 1% from Memorial Day weekend through Halloween.
Hospital capacity is another condition, with a low of 15% availability being a particular danger sign. The Capital Region – the eight-county region which includes Saratoga - is the worst of the state’s 10 designated regions for percent of hospital beds available. However, its 27% availability rate has trended in a good way, climbing in positivity in recent days, and nearing the statewide average of 34% bed availability.
“While the seven-day positivity rate has dropped substantially in just the last two weeks, it is imperative that we do not lower our guard and leave our communities and hospitals vulnerable to another surge in cases,” said Dr. Daniel Kuhles, Commissioner of Saratoga County Public Health Services, adding that he had been directed by Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Theodore Kusnierz to study NCAA protocols to determine if they can be adapted to high school athletics.
The Board of Supervisors called for a special meeting to take place Feb. 4 to consider the recommendations of Dr. Kuhles on high school high-risk sports.
Pending updates which may emerge from the special meeting Feb. 4, Saratoga County had recently put additional guidelines in place for schools to proceed.
• If the school is closed for in-person education due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, school-sponsored sports must be suspended until in-person education is resumed; however, this restriction does not apply to schools that are conducting only remote instruction.
• Sports-related travel outside the Capital Region, North Country and Mohawk Valley is strongly discouraged and travel to, or from, any area that has been designated by NYSDOH as a red or orange zone is not permitted. Participation in multiteam events or tournaments is not recommended. To minimize contact, pod/bubble mini-leagues could be created.
• Weekly COVID-19 testing for each student-athlete, coach, manager, referee/official, or other individual associated with the higher-risk sport, unless the individual has documentation of a positive COVID-19 test within the previous 90 days.
• It is also suggested that coaches and student-athletes sign pledges acknowledging that what they do outside of practice and games can affect their teammates, opponents, and their community, as well as directly impact the future of the sports season.
Cuomo’s announcement came a few days after the New York State Athletic Administrators Association - representatives of the over 780 Athletic Administrators in the state - sent a letter to the governor, imploring his reconsideration of a decision to forego ‘high-risk’ sports for the winter and potentially the remainder of the school year, and to permit play to return immediately. The letter cited surrounding states keeping school sports programs operating while identifying mental health and increasing the socio-economic gaps as potential factors in cases of student depression and lower grades while engaged in some form of virtual learning.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program (CEHAP), administered by the City’s Office of Community Development, was funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These funds were disbursed to Community Development Block Grant entitlement communities, including Saratoga Springs, to aid our community in preventing, preparing for, and responding
CEHAP will fund up to six months of emergency housing needs for low-moderate income Saratogians - preventing homelessness for those at risk, and rapidly rehousing those without adequate housing. Participating non-profit human service providers will work with citizens in need of housing assistance to facilitate the application process and provide supportive services during the experience of homelessness, eviction process and housing stabilization period. Households with a member who is documented as being at high-risk for severe COVID-19 infection will be prioritized.
Applicants must be a low-moderate income household (80% AMI or below: Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA), be connected to and referred by a Participating Provider - listed above. Additionally, for a complete set of criteria, go to: saratoga-springs.org.
Photo 1: “Jock” Whitney and his wife Betsey.
Photo 2: “Sonny” Whitney in goverment service.
Photo 3: The great Tom Fool.
Photo 4: Sonny and Mary Lou.
Last week we looked at the early years of the Whitney cousins and their achievements prior to the Second World War. In this final installment we will see them at war and in the political arena. We will read of their great racehorses and the profound effect the Whitney family had on Saratoga, their adopted summer home.
WAR, POLITICS AND A RACEHORSE FOR THE AGES
The 1940s would complicate the lives of the cousins, as it did so many Americans. The unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor by The Empire of Japan brought our country into the Second World War. Jock and Sonny were quick to enter the fray.
Jock joined the Army Air Forces where he served as an intelligence officer on the staff of General Ira Eaker, rising to the rank of Colonel. In 1944 he was taken prisoner by the Germans. In route to a prisoner of war camp, he was able to escape his captors. For meritorious service during the war, Jock received both the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
During the conflict Jock did manage to marry for a second time. He wed Betsey Cushing, formerly the daughter-in-law of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942. Along with Babe and Millie she was one of the glamorous Cushing sisters. They captured fame as socialites of the era, who through their beauty and charm ascended to the top of American aristocracy.
Sonny also served with distinction during the war. On the outbreak of hostilities, he resigned as Chairman of the Board of Pan American Airlines. Without hesitation, he, like Jock, joined the Army Air Forces. Sonny served in both the India and North Africa Theaters. As an intelligence officer with the Ninth Air Force he was heavily involved with the planning of the Ploesti air raids. For his contributions to the war effort Sonny received both the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Service Medal. The war ended in 1945. The cousins came home to the states.
Two years later Sonny entered government service. Harry Truman was President and he liked what he saw in the newcomer to politics. “Give ‘em hell Harry” offered Sonny the position of Assistant Secretary of the Air Force. Sonny accepted the post. In 1949 he switched gears and headed over to the Commerce Department. There he served as Under Secretary through 1950.
During that period Sonny’s racing stable was riding high. His three-year-old colt Phalanx became a star during the 1947 racing season. To Sonny’s delight Phalanx won the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes and was named as American Champion Three-Year-Old Colt. Four years later Sonny took all the marbles. His colt Counterpoint gave him and Hall of Fame trainer Syl Veitch their second Belmont Stakes success. He continued his superb campaign with a win that fall in the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup. For his efforts Counterpoint was named Horse of the Year for 1951.The following year the champ gave Sonny one final gift. He romped home in the Whitney Stakes here at the Spa in the final start of his career. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney was on clouds number one through nine, and the best was yet to come.
Cousin Jock leaped back into the business world after the war ended with a new concept, Venture Capital. The firm J.H. Whitney & Co. invested in new ideas that could not get bank approval. It proved to be a resounding financial success. Jock and sister Joan’s Greentree Stable was reaching dizzying heights in the forties. In 1942 the barn sent out a three-year-old colt named Shut Out. He promptly took both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. He also notched the Travers Stakes here at the Spa later that summer. Devil Diver was a force to be reckoned with on the racetrack for the years 1943-44. The Greentree Star dominated his opponents during that stretch. He was named Handicap Horse of the Year for both seasons. Devil Diver was enshrined in horse racing’s Hall of Fame in 1980.
In the early 1950s Greentree captured headlines in sports pages across the country. A brilliant thoroughbred with the name Tom Fool would take Greentree to the top of the horse racing universe. He was named Two-Year-Old Colt of the Year in 1951. In 1953 as a four-year-old he reached his peak crushing all opposition. Tom Fool ran the table. He took the New York Handicap Triple, then America’s supreme test for older horses for only the second time in its long history. To Jock’s elation he added the Whitney Stakes to his resume here at Saratoga. It was the fifth time a Greentree runner took the race. Tom Fool swept horse racing honors for the year 1953. He was named Horse of the
Year, as well as best sprinter and handicap horse. In 1960 the champion was inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Tom Fool stands high on the list of the greatest racehorses that ever competed on the American Turf.
In 1956 Jock entered government foreign service. His close friend President Dwight Eisenhower offered him the position of the United States Ambassador to Great Britain. Who better for the diplomatic post than an American of British descent that could trace his roots to the Mayflower? John Hay Whitney, along with his elegant wife Betsy brought their brand of American dignity and style to the Court of St. James’s. The year 1961 marked the end of the Eisenhower administration. With that Jock boarded a flight from London to New York and made his return to the private sector.
1958 WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR
Sonny Whitney was a busy man in the 1950s. He was the owner of numerous flourishing business concerns. In 1950 he took the time from a busy schedule to establish the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He led a group of the sport’s most well-known personalities in making the dream become a reality. The following year the museum opened at the Canfield Casino in Congress Park. In 1955 it was moved to its present location on Union Avenue.
A major turning point in the life of Sonny occurred in 1958. He wed Marie Louise Schroeder in January of that year. The union proved to be the happiest of his four marriages and would last until his death thirty-five years later.
It was at this time that Sonny introduced Mary Lou to his Saratoga estate known as Cady Hill. She instantly became enamored with the property. With a keen eye, Mary Lou noticed that Saratoga, except for a short racing season, was pretty much a ghost town. The lake houses, where late night gambling and world class entertainment once flourished were a thing of the past. The grand hotels that had lined Broadway went the way of the wrecking ball earlier in the decade. Hotels and restaurants were few and far between. Saratoga needed a benefactor, someone who had social standing, flair, a bigger than life personality and connections with all the right people to bring about change. Add to that the Whitney mystique and Mary Lou was the perfect candidate. With Sonny’s blessing, his bride set out to energize and help create an atmosphere that would forge Saratoga into a world-renowned destination.
PUBLISHER, ART COLLECTOR AND A HORSE FOR THE AGES
The year Sonny wed Mary Lou, his cousin Jock entered the newspaper business. He spent a good portion of the next decade as the publisher of the New York Herald Tribune.
Jock was also busy building one of the largest private art collections in the world. He amassed world class paintings by the Great Masters of the seventeenth century and those of the Impressionist Movement of the late 1800s. After Jock’s death, the magnificent collection was disbursed at his wife Betsey’s discretion. Many of the notable works were bequeathed to their favorite museums, the National Art Gallery and The Museum of Modern Art.
Jock’s beloved Greentree reached a milestone in 1968. Stage Door Johnny took the 100th running of the Belmont Stakes. It was the fourth time the renowned stable took the race. It also marked the last of seven wins in Triple Crown events for Greentree. The stable continued to race quality horses until 1982. During that year Jock passed away. It spelled the end for Greentree. It’s famed salmon pink with black striped sleeved silks were retired. The stock was sold off and horse racing had lost one of its greatest names.
HELLO MARY LOU. WE LOVE YOU
Mary Lou embarked on her venture to enhance Saratoga. The Whitney Gala at the Casino in Congress Park became her trademark event. She enticed the rich and famous to attend the annual August charity ball.
It became the main attraction of the racing season. Mary Lou was soon anointed as “The Queen of Saratoga.” She along with Sonny were among the early benefactors of the Performing Arts Center in the Spa State Park. The amphitheater brought Saratoga to the forefront of the summer music and dance scene. The Philadelphia Orchestra and New York City Ballet took center stage to open the season. Then it was time for the great entertainers and rock bands to perform in front of packed houses.
Mary Lou also worked with Saratoga dignitaries and businessmen to further the development of the downtown area. Another project that she innovated was the formation of the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame.
Mary Lou had a special interest in the welfare of the backstretch employees. Along with John Hendrickson, she worked tirelessly to better the conditions for those who made their living on the backside of the track. To chronicle all her achievements in the rebirth and promoting of Saratoga would require much more attention than is available here.
THE END OF AN ERA
In 1992, at the age of 93 Sonny passed away. He and his cousin Jock were the last of the Whitney line to live the life of celebrity. They carried the family name to even greater heights than their ancestors. The cousins were lions in the world of business and finance and left an indelible mark on their favorite pastime, The Sport of Kings. We will never see the likes of them again. Saratoga is a better place for having known their presence here as an integral part of its storied past.
If you’ve seen Shane Avery at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, you’ll know he’s a busy man operating two businesses at once. Avery started at the market as Saratoga Urban Farm, selling microgreens and wheatgrass shots. The latter inspired him to make holistic wellness products more accessible to customers. The creation of both Earth To Mind, a CBD product line, and Junbucha, a green tea and honey-based twist on kombucha, soon followed.
Earth To Mind was born at just the right time: “People were asking if anyone at the market produced CBD products, so it seemed like a great opportunity for me to try to fill that gap,” says Avery. Earth To Mind’s product line includes tinctures, topicals, rubs, and now also soft gels. Its CBD Assistance Program aims to improve accessibility and gives 40% off to veterans, low-income customers, and those on disability. And CBD isn’t limited to humans; the products are also great for pets, to calm anxiety and to ease inflammation.
The origins of Avery’s Junbucha, “the champagne of kombucha,” were also at the market: loyal customers demanded more of the homemade kombucha that Avery would share. “Jun is a tough to brew culture, but the honey makes for a lighter, floral brew that still has those same probiotic properties.” Made with organic ingredients, Avery produces flavors like blueberry & lemon, pineapple & turmeric, and ginger & yerba mate. Cold-pressed juice is added just before bottling to make a fruitier brew than the often vinegary kombucha.
Avery’s companies both aimed to fill customer demands at the farmers’ market. The regard for community wellbeing is evident from the way they operate, whether it be through sourcing local ingredients to support other small businesses or renting out their shared commercial kitchen space for others to incubate new ideas. “You need a healthy ecosystem for your business to grow in, and I try to take an active role to help sustain that ecosystem for others.” The brands also value environmental sustainability, using recycled packaging and reusable bottles (a recent favorite was a customer using bottles for sand art). “It’s obvious to consider the earth when you’re a farmer; your hands are literally in the dirt. But other food producers are equally responsible for operating sustainably,” Avery says.
Avery is grateful for the platform that the farmers’ markets have given him. “In my opinion, it’s the best place to incubate new products and ideas. You get instant feedback, and customers’ reviews are honest, accurate, and high-quality. As a farmer or producer at the market, you’re adding value to a larger marketplace of ideas.” Find Earth To Mind and Junbucha at the farmers’ market every Saturday, or order online on earthtomind.com and junbucha.com.
Are you looking to grow your business in 2021? Vendor applications for our summer markets are open until January 31! Local farmers, artisans, crafters, and specialty food makers are welcome to apply. For more information visit saratogafarmersmarket.org/vendor.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Find us online at saratogafarmersmarket.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. For online pre-ordering and curb-side pickup, visit localline.ca/saratoga-farmers-market.