Thursday, August 1, 2013

Saratoga - The August Place to Be

It’s summer, it’s August, the place to be is Saratoga Springs, NY.  There’s so much happening in and around Saratoga any time of year, but especially in summer, and even more so in August.
The slogan for Saratoga is “Health, History, Horses”. 
The naturally occurring mineral springs originally drew the local Native Americans to this area.  They felt the spring water had healing properties.  After the Native Americans introduced the English settlers to the springs, the area became a resort town for folks looking to “take the cure”.  Tourists drank and bathed in the mineral waters.  Today, there are about 20 springs located around town.  In my opinion, most of the mineral spring water is not fit for drinking – it’s naturally carbonated, smells like sulfur, and is heavy with minerals – many of the springs are identified as being a “cathartic” – meaning that drinking the water will make you “go”, if you know what I mean.  But don’t take my word for it, you have to try it for yourself.  There is the State Seal spring located in Saratoga Spa State Park that is just plain, great, clear, spring water.  A couple hundred yards away is the Geyser Island Spouter mineral spring.  This spring is located in the middle of Kaydeross Creek, which runs through the center of the park.  The Geyser is one of only a few springs that actually shoots up in the air.  Years and years of mineral deposits have formed the “island” that surrounds the spring.
If you remember your American History, then you should know that Saratoga is the “Turning Point of the Revolutionary War”.  It was after the Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) that British General John Burgoyne surrendered to the Continental Army.  Today, you can visit the location of those battles, Freeman’s Farm, and the Battle of Bemis Heights, at the Saratoga National Historical Park.  In addition to the battlefield, you can also visit General Philip Schuyler’s house and the Saratoga Monument.  You can also visit Grant’s Cottage, the last home of former U.S. President, Ulysses S. Grant.
Today, most people associate Saratoga with horse racing, particularly thoroughbred racing at the Saratoga Race Course, the oldest continuously-operating race course in America.  This year, the race course is celebrating its 150th year.  The summer meet currently runs for six weeks from late July to Labor Day.   If you enjoy horses, people watching, and being surrounded by history in a beautiful setting, then a day at the races might be for you. 
If you haven’t had enough horse racing during the day, you can also visit the Saratoga Casino and Raceway in the evening for harness racing and to play the slots.  Or, if polo’s more your thing, you can watch a polo match hosted by the Saratoga Polo Association.
So Much More
In addition to health, history, and horses, the Saratoga area has many other attractions and reasons to visit.  The Saratoga Performing Arts Center features an outdoor, covered amphitheatre and is the summer home to the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as numerous other country and contemporary recording artists. 
If you like museums, Saratoga has the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and the Saratoga Automobile Museum. 
Can you tell I love this area of Upstate NY?  I’ve only scratched the surface of all that Saratoga has to offer, but, if after reading all of this you still aren’t convinced that a visit to Saratoga should be on your itinerary, you should know there are 5 quilt shops and 2 Joann Fabrics within a 15-20 minute drive of downtown Saratoga!!  When you come to Saratoga, you should plan to visit each of the following local quilt shops – each features something different than the others:
Saratoga Springs: KC Framing and Fabrics
Ballston Spa: Almost One of a Kind
Queensbury and Clifton Park: Joann’s Fabrics
Now – how did I make the Saratoga quilt?  For the text and the horse, I used June Tailor Colorfast fabric sheets and printed these off my computer.  For the Saratoga Monument, I drew the monument with a Pigma Micron pen.  I used watercolor pencils to draw, then “paint” the Geyser Island Spouter.

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