Thursday, September 21, 2017

Celebrating Cream Cheese

 Over the weekend we went up to our former hometown of Lowville New York for one of those events that had been a well-kept secret for many years. For 13 years now this small town has been the location for what is basically a street fair.  I remember when I was volunteering at the Chamber of Commerce and we were discussing fundraisers. It was mentioned that the local Kraft plant had expressed an interest in sponsoring an activity that might showcase Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The Lowville plant happens to be the largest Cream Cheese Plant.  Contrary to what people think about Wisconsin, New York State also happens to be a dairy state. In fact, Northern New York, where Lowville is, happens to be predominantly dairy farms. 

The first year of the event we shut down the street for almost a block to allow foot traffic for the various booths and stands.  On a side street we closed the area to the park in order for children to safely attend activities there. About 500 people attended.  Each year the event grew to what is now a block and a half closed, plus the entire side street. There are two stages for performers and two areas for various cream cheese related games. I'm guessing that the turn-out in this county of almost 30,000 now seems to be closer to 5000 or more, with many coming from the nearby Fort Drum. We try to drive up for it every year.

The feature of the Cream Cheese Festival is, of course, cheesecake. Not just any cheesecake but the World's Largest Cheesecake lovingly made and served by Kraft employees. 

You know you have reached Lewis County when you pass the vast Marks' Farms.  This dairy farm currently has about 9000 head of Holstein cattle and produces about 340,000 pounds of milk daily (I got this from their website). 

Crystal Pond is located in New Bremen, just east of Lowville. It's a man-made lake that is a local swimming hole in the summer and provides fundraising for the local fire department in the winter, through the harvesting of its ice.

My alma mater, Lowville Academy and Central school, is a Preschool - 12th grade school that in 2016 had 1306 students. We used to have a grass turf surrounded by a gently sloping hill, where people sat to watch the games.  Above the hill was grass and a playground. Now it is turf, several tennis courts and two gravel playgrounds. Gone are the hill and grassy areas.  I'm not sure this is progress.

Up until a few years ago this entrance to a lobby between the high school, middle school and elementary wings was an awesome wind tunnel. You stepped into an area tucked into the buildings and the wind would whip your hair in a cyclone and the swirling leaves tried to be woven in.  So, I guess this is progress. 

Looking from the wind tunnel toward the elementary wing. This brings back so many memories.

I'm sharing this because this is the same saying that I showed a few posts ago from the entrance of my son's high school.

The front of the school, looking at the high school. Aside from the new windows, it looks the same as when I graduated so long ago.

From in front of the school, looking down the street at the Cream Cheese Festival. 

After half an hour they were slowly making their way through handing out the cheesecake. 

The slices weren't pretty, but they were so delicious!

Looking toward the crowd gathered to watch one of the bands.

Freemen's Taffy is the best taffy ever!  They are only available at the Lewis County Fair and at special events. Maybe that what makes them so good.

One of the many odd cream cheese-related games. This one is called Cream Cheese Shuffle Board. The goal is to get the cream cheese tubs through the legs of the goalie.

My son is a huge fan of the local meteorologist. She is a hometown girl and was emceeing the festival.

The son of my neighbour from here in the capital region is the drummer for the band Under Cover. The lead singer is from Lowville.  They drove up to play. If you are ever in the Capital District look them up.  They play classic rock and are really good!

Several songs later and they are still talking. 

A friend of ours caught on camera. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Orientation and the PTA

I love volunteering. I know many people have already figured that out about me. But it's true. Last year I joined another branch of the PTA. This time it's for my youngest son's high school. They had been looking for a secretary for a while and I finally decided to step up. Part way through the year I started taking minutes for the meetings when our Secretary couldn't attend meetings any more. At the end of the year she and the President stepped down. We had a person to take over as President but she had a busy summer. As did our vice-President. I didn't want a repeat of last year and few fundraisers, so I again jumped in and scheduled a year's worth of fundraisers by the time school started. I'me still working out some fine points but other-wise we are pretty set. 

Just before school began our President sent out an email saying she was asked about the New Student Orientation. I thought that is an excellent way to promote our Organization and I know people like goodies. So I put together several raffle baskets. Some I purchased, others were donated by The Watervliet Library. I even purchased candy and a jar to get sweets-lovers over.  We did really well with a few new members and lots of folks picking up membership forms while submitting tickets for the raffle. 

This motto is engraved in stone above the door of the high school where I graduated so many years ago. I feel at home here. 

My youngest daughter is my co-hort when volunteering. She normally volunteers at the library (which is how we got the items from there). It's a Mom/Daughter thing.

We were told to set the tables for the New Student Picnic and that we could decorate if we like. We opted for these beautiful yellow mums.

We reset the table outdoors for the Picnic, where we represented Shaker High and handed out school paperwork to the incoming new students. More mums, only thins time we were given them to take home after the event. 

We went home to pick up my oldest from work, since I had his van. When we got home my oldest daughter was home from work and ready to help in the kitchen. When we arrived back at school the crowd was building.

#3 in the area. It's no wonder my son loves his school so much!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Non-Toxic Bug Spray

My family lives in the suburbs, so we don't have a big problem with bugs. Our biggest issue here is mosquitoes, but we solved that problem with a propane mosquito trap. It converts the propane to CO2. That attracts the mosquitoes and they get trapped. Problem solved. 

We do still have the Punkie issue. Gnats, No-see-ums, whatever they are called where you are they are a nuisance. Maybe this product will work next time we go camping and have those deerflies gnawing on our ankles as we play cards.  

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1 gallon of water
2 cups of Dawn soap
2 cups of plain "Listerine" type mouthwash
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Simply mix together the following and place in a spray bottle: Spray all around where you are sitting outside.

Let me know how this works.