Sorry, New York Times, But We Built the Catskills

Fall Leaves in the CatskillsWell,  it seems congratulations are in order. According to the New York Times, the Catskills is one of the 52 places to go in 2015. Yes, we’ve made it.

So who gets the pats on the back? The Sullivan County Visitors’ Association, perhaps, for all their hard work in reminding people that the Borscht Belt may have been tightened but has not snapped? The Chamber of Commerce, maybe? The hard-working volunteers of Sullivan Renaissance? Alan Gerry and his crew for turning the Woodstock site into more than just a field full of nostalgia? How about the local business owners who have put blood, sweat, tears, and countless man hours into building business up from the ground?

No. No. No. No. And well, sorry folks, but no.

At least you get no thanks from the Grey Lady. According to the New York Times, the gorgeous countryside we call home is worth a visit thanks to a “new generation of fresh-air-seeking urbanites” who are “reshaping” the place.

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Got that? Now that the city folks have moved in and made some improvements, it’s finally worth a visit. Well golly gee, willikers! Maybe they’ll pat us on the head and give us a lollipop too.

Now, of course, as a friend pointed out when I first expressed my abject disgust over the backhanded compliment sent our way, the New York Times is a “NYC-centric” publication “patting the backs of NYC residents/Catskills weekenders.” It’s customary to court travelers by assuring them they won’t have to go too far out of their comfort zone if they make the trip.

And it’s well worth noting that ours is a county that depends on tourism dollars. It would be unwise of me – or anyone here – to say “no” to a fresh influx of cash into our local businesses. We work hard to make this a nice place to visit for a reason.

But as a county native whose family roots go back generation upon generations, it’s hard to take the hit sitting down.

The Catskills – our corner of it included – existed before said fresh-air seeking urbanites arrived. What’s more, it’s the locals whose work attracted them to show up to begin with.

As Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams learned years ago, if you build it, he will come. “He,” in this case being people who wanted to live in a rural environment rich in history and character, a place that’s not too far from New York City but far enough, a place where every day people manage to eke out an existence day by day, week by week, year by year.

It isn’t news to those of us who live hear year-round and have for decades (or longer) that our home is a great place to go. We made it that way.

The New York Times – and others we have impressed – would be wise to remember that.


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