By Judy Garrison

We’ve been hearing mention of the Scenic Byway, which starts on Route 28 in Olive and ends on Route 28 in Andes, for years now, and some from Andes have even attended the many development meetings. Planners of last summer’s Andes Community Days used reimbursement grant money for a Scenic Byway Event to extend and enhance our programming. But now the Scenic Byway is official, with its own logo and website and signs (one on Main Street in Andes indicates “The End”), and there is evidence it will actually bring travelers and day-trippers our way and maybe help our local economy.

In mid-February Mary Davis and I attended a Business Mixer at the New Taste of NY Café at Belleayre Mountain’s Overlook Lodge put on by the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, Belleayre Mountain Ski Center and the Belleayre Music Festival. In attendance were many fervent advocates of the Crossroads Ventures project long in the works and also proponents of including funds for the Mountain into the N.Y. State revised proposed budget. (A significant figure was announced days later).

We heard acclaim for the work done by Carol O’Beirne, executive director of the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, in designing and making live the new website, Each business along the route is responsible for contributing its information, and if you go to the site you can see how user-friendly it is and the treasure trove of information contained within its many drop-down menus. These are: Recreation (which opens to hiking, cycling, On the Waters, Wellness & Healthy Lifestyles); History & the Arts; Events; Environment & Natural Resources; Lodging, Dining, Shopping; Scenic Side Trips & Itineraries; Museums; Environment & Natural Resources. Take a look and explore for yourself. More Andes businesses of all types are encouraged to join in (find a business listing form in the drop down under “About the Byway”.)

There will also be audio driving guides available to cell phones along the Byway (where there is reception). In the meantime, travelers will be able to obtain a CD of the Catskill Mountains scenic byway Audio Guide at the Interpretive Center and play it in their car as they proceed. Attendees at the mixer were given copies of the first one, “Arts & Culture.” When I listened later, I was pleasantly impressed at the quality of the quirky narratives by visual artists, musicians, farmers and business people, as they offered entertaining historical details, tales of the area, and their own stories. Robert Selkowitz, who once lived in Andes, speaks of his own landscape painting and studio, the history of the Hudson River School of Painting and the Catskill Park; Justin Kolb, pianist, talks about the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice; Cyndi Wright of Dirty Girl Farm, acquaints listeners with the growth of sustainable agriculture in our region.~