BBQ, Bourbon and Bingo to benefit Phoenicia Library

By Jay Braman Jr.
It seems that there’s no end to the creativity of those trying to raise funds for a worthy cause in the Catskills.
The most recent one to draw attention is a Bingo/Barbecue/ Bourbon mash up slated for Sunday, April 27 at the Peeka­moose Restaurant and Tap Room on Route 28 in Big Indian. A benefit for the Phoenicia Library, which burned a couple years back and is now being rebuilt, this shindig promises to be as fun as it is unique.
Besides a barbecue buffet cook­ed up by Peekamoose Chef Devin Mills, ticketholders get a bingo card that’s good for the whole evening’s games, which will yield prizes of all sorts, donated by local businesses. Prizes pledged so far include gift certificates from the Phoenicia Diner, Tenderland Home and services by Catskill Mountain Window Cleaning.
Look for celebrities to drop in and do the bingo calling, plus there’s some live music and entertained yet to be announced.
So far, distilleries throughout the region have singed on to donate spirits to the cause including the Delaware Phoenix Dis­til­lery in Walton, the Prohibition Distillery in Roscoe and Widow Jane Bourbon in Rosendale.
Library Trustee Mark Lerner, who is putting the event together along with Peekamoose owner Mary Beth Mills, said that she and Devin are offering support. Both are great supporters of the Phoenicia Library and were eager to help host an event to raise funds for the rebuilding effort. They hail from some of New York City’s finest restaurants: the Hudson River Club, Picholine, Le Bernardin, Guastavino’s, Atlantic Grill, Remi Restaurant, and the famed Gramercy Tavern.

Generous deed
“Marybeth and Devin at Peekamoose are being incredibly generous,” he said. “All the food and the space are being donated, 100 percent of the ticket price goes to library. Also 100 percent of all sales of the donated bourbons and other donated drinks.”
Lerner hopes to have a complete list of bingo prizes assembled by mid April. “If a business wants to donate a bingo prize, they can contact me at,” he said.
In March 2011, a fire gutted the Phoenicia Library. All the books were destroyed and the building was left unusable. It was a particularly hard blow in this rural town, where the library functions as a de facto community center and where, according to Lerner, it’s been more popular than ever in the past decade or so.
“People depend on it for high-speed Internet access, programming, and of course, books,” he said. “The library also checks out ukuleles and fishing poles, and dogs are welcome. It’s quite a place.” 
The library board resolved to turn disaster into an opportunity to incorporate long-needed improvements into the rebuilt library, expanding its size and redesigning it to bring it closer to the standards of a modern library that will better serve the needs of the community.
It will include: a 215-square-foot expansion, a bigger, dedicated children’s room, a new community room for workshops and meetings, wheelchair accessibility including entry ramp and elevator, and passive house energy efficient construction which reduces heating and cooling costs by 90 percent.
Construction has begun, but the library still needs to raise about $50,000, both to complete the building and to stock it with new books, furniture, and computers. The new library is expected to open in late summer 2014.