Much has changed in the Catskills since the days when it was the country’s premier Jewish vacation destination. But a few things have remained. Among them, the Monticello Bagel Bakery, still busy and in demand.
The bakery is one of seven that is organizing a Bagel Festival, set to take place on Broadway in Monticello at the end of August.
Jeff Siegel, an “entertainment and production specialist” in Monticello, is the festival’s creator. Siegel went so far as to approach the New York State Senate and get it to pass a resolution “commending” the village for being named The Bagel Capital and recognizing it as “a world symbol of fine baked goods.” Siegel plans to make it the largest bagel festival in America.
“We have the guy who invented the bagel-making machine,” Siegel told the Times Herald Record.
According to a 1988 story in the New York Times, Louis Wichinsky from nearby Hurleyville produced a machine in 1964 that could reportedly produce 600 bagels an hour. Although Wichinsky later discovered another man had made a nearly identical machine, he obtained a patent for the invention based on one difference. His had a kneading plate.
The festival will be a two day bagel extravaganza beginning on Aug. 16 with a VIP Kick-Off event. The main event will take place the following day, including crafts, sculptures, food, bagel bakeries and live music. There will also be a Bagel Festival Parade with trucks, floats, and people scooting down old Broadway.
Siegel also hopes to get Monticello into the Guinness Book of World Records by having participants create the world’s largest bagel chain made out of real bagels, as well as the world’s largest dyed peace sign bagel, in commemoration of the coinciding Woodstock anniversary.
If you need another reason to visit the Catskills, then go for the bagels. And if you’re feeling crazy, the flagels.