The Columbia County town of New Lebanon — it’s just across the border with Rensselaer County — is attempting to turn itself into “the nation’s first living museum of contemporary rural American life” this fall. So what does that mean? Blurbage for Behold! New Lebanon:
We invite you to experience the joy of living seasonally and to fully engage with rural living. Have you wondered how volunteers fight fires? Come meet our firefighters in the firehouse. Have you ever heard of a heritage breed of cattle? We’ll introduce you. Have you ever wondered if you could survive by eating what you find in the forest? We’ll show you how. Want to make our New Lebanon Slab Pie? No problem. Wish you could give your grandchild a toy to cherish forever? We’ll teach you how to make one. Curious about what goes on behind the scenes of a car racing track? We’ll take you there and introduce you to our drivers. Do you wonder who lives in small towns and how we spend our time? We’ll tell you. And along the way, we’ll invite you to sing with us, dance with us, eat with us, learn with us, read with us, and chat with us.
Today, taking our cue from our forebears, the citizens of New Lebanon are again pioneering a new idea. Behold! New Lebanon is building the nation’s first living museum of contemporary rural American life. Honoring the techniques and know how of generations past, we are updating them to forge a sustainable future … You may have visited historic museums where costumed docents play characters from yesteryear and demonstrate skills of times long since past. But during “Behold! NewLebanon,” we will introduce you to the way we live and work today and offer you an opportunity to learn, appreciate, and try our way of life.
Here’s a recent NYT article about project, which includes some backstory — the idea is an effort to draw tourists to the town, which as struggled for economic development.
The town-as-living-museum project will be running three more weekends this fall. Tickets start at $25 for a day.