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Cooperstown, Carousels And Torah Arks

Cooperstown, Carousels And Torah Arks

Associate Editor

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

All good Americans, at some point, ought to visit Cooperstown, a most beautiful village rightfully known for baseball’s Hall of Fame, but if you’re planning a visit, consider an excursion to Cooperstown’s Fenimore Art Museum, about a mile north of the Hall.

This summer, the Fenimore is presenting “Gilded Lions And Jeweled Horses,” celebrating the Eastern European Jewish woodcarvers who not only created the classic shul artistry of a previous century but who were the woodcarvers behind many of the classic American carousels.

I’m sorry I didn’t get to this exhibit when it was in New York City at the American Folk Art Museum, but the American Folk people put together a terrific online exhibit, right here, that explains and displays the journey of these Jewish woodcarvers from shtetl shuls to Coney Island carousels. Turn up the volume because when the online exhibit gets around to the carousel display there’s some fine calliope carousel music that plays along with it.

And click here to see more on what’s going on at the Fenimore.

Suddenly the wide-eyed, nostril-flaring lions carved on an old Aron Kodesh or flanking a shul’s Ten Commandments will be seen in a new light, as first cousins to the wide-eyed, nostril-flaring horses and lions that are still running in circles from Rye Playland to the Orange County Fair, just off Route 17.

The Orange County Fair, in Middletown, N.Y. (July 16-27), is the closest cattle-and-carousel traditional large-scale county fair to New York City. A much smaller fair, quaint and worth visiting if you’re already in the mountains, is Sullivan County’s 129th Grahamsville Little World’s Fair, Aug. 15-17.

Rest assured, the Grahamsville Little World’s Fair has absolutely nothing to do with the world beyond Grahamsville; nothing to do with anything at all that existed before July or will exist again after August, except in memory.

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