Under a cloudless sky and just off the banks of the Hudson, vendors, musicians, artisans, and shop owners came together and opened their doors for residents of Columbia County and the surrounding area. The May sky may have been spotless but all along Germantown’s Main Street local businesses dotted the sidewalks with unique, handcrafted items, open front doors gave way to sunny conversations on steps while the sweet sound of Bluegrass lingered lazily in the afternoon air. The Taconic Ridge Bluegrass Band’s pastoral sound fit the atmosphere of casual chats amongst happy shoppers perfectly. The band, comprised of four members, is not only skilled in the style of classical bluegrass, but is also made up of prominent community members including Banjo player Greg Fingar who serves as the chairman for the Columbia County GOP. It wasn´t just the music and friendly atmosphere that drew residents to Germantown on Saturday May 18th, businesses took the opportunity to give back to their neighbors and friends with support from the attendees. On the corner of Church Avenue for example, at Gaskins restaurant, owners Nick and Sarah Suarez served up their irresistible homemade ice cream to passers-by with all proceeds going to the Germantown Hamlet Park Project.
The clarity of the summer sky is emblematic of this small, close-knit, main street located right off rural 9G and presents visitors with a personalized experience with the small business spirit of the Hudson Valley. Just past the firehouse, the road bends, with the windows down, sits Otto’s Market, a place with a nostalgic feel and a new wave flavor. Since 1927 Otto’s has been part of the fabric of Germantown in one form or another. Today, this Columbia County mainstay retains its down-home character with its offerings of small town essentials as well as specialty food items, delicious deli sandwiches and mouth watering baked goods. Surprisingly, given its near century of existence, Otto’s is still not the most historic building on Main Street. Further down from Otto’s, and across from Church Avenue, visitors will be pleased to find the Central House, a hotel and inn that has literally scene the landscape of the Hudson Valley and the country itself change over the course of the last century and a half. Established a mere decade after the end of the Civil War, The Central House has worn many masks during its life in the area including spending time as a speakeasy, a stage coach house, and was even owned by the Rockefeller family at one point in time. For the past seven years, The Central House has reclaimed its status as one of the areas premiere hotels after being acquired by the Lueck family in 2006 and fully restored in 2011. Just across the street on the corner of Main and Church Avenue is a relatively new offering to the Hudson Valley food scene. Despite being in its business infancy, the aforementioned Gaskins’s distinct tavern like atmosphere has helped the young restaurant establish strong communal roots among locals and food producers. Owners Nick and Sarah Suarez have dedicated Gaskins’s menu to the labor of local farmers and food artisans, the result is a menu full of exceptional ingredients and fresh, vibrant tastes to match.