by Char Weigel –
On April 3, the Headless Horseman will gallop into the Old Dutch Church Burying Ground. This time, he’ll be searching for a slice of birthday cake instead of Ichabod Crane. County Executive George Latimer will be on hand to celebrate Washington Irving’s birthday and officially launch the bicentennial of the publication of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Latimer is the Honorary Chair of a Bicentennial Committee comprised of the villages of Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown and Irvington and a number of local cultural and historical non-profits. The bicentennial commemorates Irving’s collection of short stories, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., that was published from 1819 to 1820, and included “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Latimer will unveil the celebration’s logo and preview events running from May 2019 to December 2020. Events will include the First Annual Sleepy Hollow Film Festival, an academic conference, special walking tours and lectures, and scores of other activities celebrating Irving and “The Legend.”
The first official bicentennial event will be the Sleepy Hollow Lit Fest on Saturday, May 18. Krista Madsen, Managing Director of the Hudson Valley Writers Center, one of the Lit Fest sponsors, said, “We are celebrating Irving’s vibrant and democratic literary legacy with a fun, family-friendly festival. The Lit Fest offers something for readers and writers of all ages and across genres.”
The Lit Fest will feature a literary exploration of “Irving culture” along the path of Ichabod Crane’s wild ride to escape the Headless Horseman. The Music Hall Academy at the Tarrytown Music Hall will stage theatrical workshops on fairy tales targeted to younger children, while Jazz Forum Arts will offer a spoken word open mik for teens as well as literary and musical acts. Warner Library will host a bilingual, multi-arts program and book signing. A vendor village will be set up in Patriots Park with food and merchandise, as well as a main event tent for author readings and presentations.
Philipsburg Manor will host Pinkster, a re-creation of the colonial African and cross-cultural celebration, and feature Michael Twitty, African-American and Jewish author of The Cooking Gene and winner of the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award.
Mystery story fans will listen to authors at the Old Dutch Church and visit with a costumed interpreter at Irving’s grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Over 30 authors and poets will read throughout the day at the Hudson Valley Writers Center with a keynote reading by acclaimed poet Ilya Kaminsky. All events are free. The Lit Fest is looking for volunteers, pop-up vendors, literary musical acts and sponsors. Email email@example.com.
Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown and Irvington will host another unique bicentennial program: “Everybody’s Reading ‘The Legend.’” Sponsored by Warner Library and The Historical Society Serving Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. These single session “book clubs” will be held in venues around the villages and across the County during 2019 and 2020. Participants will be able to pick up a free copy of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in Spanish or English at Warner Library.
Registration is free and open for sessions on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. (Warner Library), June 23 at 2:30 p.m. (The Historical Society), and a special read-aloud on July 18 at 7 p.m. (Warner Library). More sessions are being scheduled for Christ Episcopal Church (where Irving worshipped), Sunnyside (Irving’s home), Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Irving’s final resting place), the Old Dutch Church (an inspiration for “The Legend”) and more sites to come. To register or book a session for your venue/site, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sketchbook is full of music and merriment, legends and laughter as well as tales of ghosts, goblins and fairies. The 200th anniversary celebration promises to offer all that and much more. For more information and updates, visit www.headlesshorseman.org.