Otsiningo Park

This weekend I went to Otsiningo Park. The park, which is named after “one of the many 18th century Native American words for the lower Chenango River Valley,” is definitely a place to check out over the summer.

Otsiningo park is exactly what it sounds like; a public park. It offers picnic benches, running trails, and scenic views all year.  Along with the basic amenities, it also has grills, multiple sports fields that people can easily rent out, and picnic shelters that can hold up to 100 people.

When I went I mostly sat at a picnic table by the pond, to soak in the nice weather.  The park is definitely well-maintained and it’s certainly a place that I would recommend as a picnic venue.

In August, Otsiningo Park is also home to the Binghamton Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally.  The festival, which is a three-day event, boasts over 40 hot air balloons, live music, and plenty of food.

Otsiningo Park is open from dawn to dusk year-round and is completely free!  For more information visit http://www.gobroomecounty.com/parks/otsiningo


Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park

Last week it was BEAUTIFUL out so my friend Brian and I went to the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park.

Since it was the beginning of spring, the zoo was actually having its opening weekend, meaning there were lots of parents and children there.  The zoo, which was America’s 5th zoo (who doesn’t love fifth place??), has a huge range of animals, from tigers to penguins to livestock.

I’m always a huge fan of petting zoos, so I’m happy to say that the Binghamton Zoo has one.  I got to play with some baby goats, which is all I ever really dream of.

The penguins were cool to see (although it was 70º out, so I’m not sure how happy they were to see me) and although I’m generally freaked out by birds, there were a ton of pretty and exotic birds.  By “exotic” I mean any bird that isn’t a pigeon, since I’m from manhattan.  

I also got to see the Binghamton ZooMobile at an event on campus, which is the zoo’s mobile education program.  The ZooMobile brings a variety of animals (think roaches, chinchillas, and parrots) and a guide, who usually holds the animals tells students fun facts about them.

I’m always hesitant when it comes to zoos, since I have some issues with keeping wild animals in captivity, but the Binghamton Zoo seems to do a great job ensuring their animals are safe and well cared for.  I spoke to one of the ZooMobile facilitators and she seemed to be incredibly invested in her animals, showing me photos of some baby chinchillas on her phone.

The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park is open from 10am-4pm until October 1st; the hours vary for fall and winter.  The easiest bus to take is the Broome County 3 Park Ave, and tickets are $7 for students.

For more information visit http://rossparkzoo.com

Old Barn Hollow Farm Market & Gluten Free Bakery

The Old Barn Hollow Farm Market & Gluten Free Bakery is brimming with local produce and baked goods year-round.

Old Barn Hollow, which sits on Binghamton’s State Street, is Binghamton’s only “locavore” store.  Everything they sell is from a local farm or is made by local artisans, meaning nothing is mass produced or imported.

When I visited Old Barn Hollow I was pleasantly surprised to see that though it was winter, there were still tons of options.  They have a lot of jams, sauces, and spreads that can be preserved year round, but they also have lots of frozen and refrigerated farm goods.  With coolers of artisan ravioli and freezers packed with meat and cheese, there was no shortage of local goods.  

I got LeRaysville cajun cheese curds and a slice of gluten free lemon loaf, while my friend Brian got a Red Jacket Orchards lemonade and a gluten free peanut butter cookie. Because I like to eat everything, I tried all four things, and I will definitely be going back over the summer.  

The woman who was ringing me up let me know that this is the least produce they ever have, since I went in March, so I plan on returning when they have the full farmers market running in the front of the store.  

Old Barn Hollow Farm Market & Gluten Free Bakery is at 214 State Street and is open Tuesday to Thursday from 12:00p – 6:00p, Friday from 10:00a – 6:00p, and Saturday from 10:00a – 4:00p.  More information can be found at http://www.oldbarnhollow.com/home.html

Phelps Mansion Museum

The Phelps Mansion Museum was built to be the biggest house on a street of mansions.

The brick and stone mansion, with it’s highest point surpassing 50 feet, still proudly sits on Binghamton’s Court street.

First built in 1870, the mansion was designed for Sherman Phelps by Isaac Perry, who was the architect behind many of New York state’s iconic buildings.  The Phelps mansion, in particular, is one of his most remarkable creations.  The building, which is now a museum, has been carefully curated and is filled with beautiful pieces.  

The first floor is adorned with huge chandeliers, which are complemented by the ornate original woodwork.  The decadence of the first floor is contrasted by the second floor, which is significantly less flashy (though still absurdly fancy), since guests would never go upstairs. Throughout both floors there are intricate hand-painted wallpapers and generous slabs of Italian marble, which cover the floor of the foyer and surround many of the fireplaces.

Much of the furniture in the house was bought after 1905 by the Monday Afternoon Club, a women’s civic organization that took over the mansion.  The things they brought were also stunning, enhancing the mansion’s intrinsic majesty.  In the parlor, there’s even a piano with opalescent mother of pearl keys.  

I was blown away by the Phelps mansion; if I wasn’t afraid of ghosts I would love to live there.  Aside from the amazing features, like the gigantic 10 foot mirror across from the grand staircase, the tour was fun and informative.

The mansion offers guided tours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

The OCCT Leroy Southside bus (LRS) runs from campus to Court and Washington, which is about a block away from the museum.

More information can be found at http://phelpsmansion.org 


Broome County Regional Farmers Market

The Broome County Regional Farmers Market is a surprising taste of summer on Binghamton’s upper front street.

Hidden inside a massive barn, the farmers market offers a variety of delicious options, from seasonal produce to baked goods.

Wooden rafters adorned with strings of lightbulbs give the large space a warm feel, even in the dead of winter.  With over 30 different local vendors, the market is lively and welcoming, offering foods and drinks for every kind of consumer.

Homemade pestos, made by the owner of Whole in the Wall, sit alongside Peruvian alfajores, fresh from The Peruvian Bakery.  The huge array of options, and samples, allows shoppers to get a taste of the best sweet and savory foods that Binghamton has to offer.

While I was at the farmers market I had a pink lady apple, a honey caramel, and an incredible lemon tart.  I’m not even saying “incredible” lightly; this lemon tart was on a similar level to my mother’s lemon tarts, which is quite a statement.

Even in March, the most frigid and barren month, there was tons of fresh produce, including some sweet potatoes that were larger than my forearm.  I can only imagine how fantastic the market will be during summer, when fruits and vegetables are thriving.

The Broome County Regional Farmers Market is at 840 Front Street and is open year round on Saturdays from 9am-1pm.  From May to October, it’s also open on Tuesdays, from 4-7pm.

To learn more about the Broome County Regional Farmers Market, visit: http://www.bcregionalmkt.com


The Roberson Museum

Nature and art collide at Binghamton’s Roberson Museum and Science Center.

The Roberson Museum and Science Center is one of two museums that is displaying the new Nature’s Best Photography exhibit. The exhibit, which is also being shown at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is a collection of some of nature’s finest moments. The photos have been selected out of more than 500,000 submissions to National Geographic from the past 20 years.

The exhibit highlights photographs of Earth’s most breathtaking landscapes, stunning creatures, and surprising behaviors, with each photographer capturing the ideal moment of encounter.

I enjoyed curation of the exhibit, which artfully positioned each photo into a sequence, with warm and cool colors being grouped together. It also went beyond color coordination, with stoic portraits of predators being contrasted against tender and affectionate moments. The photos were strong alone, but the precise balance throughout the series of photos also made them strong as a group.

Some of the photos, such as Great Frigatebird Feathers and Eye of a Neotropical Green Anole, are more detail oriented, creating abstract images that reveal details not usually noticed by the human eye. Others focus on the bigger picture, relying on the perfect situation to come together in one exciting moment.

Brown Bear, by Tin Man Lee, shows a grizzly bear directly leaping at the camera. Lee, after spending six days looking for bears, found huge grizzlies in an icy river. He crouched down in the freezing water and waited until he could capture a shot of the bear pouncing towards him with an explosive splash of water. Lee explains in the description that “It was, perhaps, the greatest moment of my life.”

The exhibit reminds viewers of the delicate balance that goes into finding the optimal moment of interaction between photographer, subject, and surrounding.

Nature’s Best Photography will be on display at the Roberson Museum and Science Center through June 30th, 2017.

To learn more about the Roberson Museum visit: https://www.roberson.org/