Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Traveling Feet Shownotes
Traveling Feet - May 09, 2009 - Shownotes & Audio Archive

Stephanie Broadcasts Live from Washington Park at Albany, New York's 61st Annual Tulip Festival; Milwaukee's Irish Fest in August; Albany's 2009 Events; National Train Day; Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station's Passages; The 29th Old Song Festival; Ray Melleady of Albany's Capital District Transit Authority.

Listen to the show in Windows Media Format:     hour1     hour2

Listen to the show in MP3 Format:     hour1     hour2

Hour 1

Topics Include:

Stephanie is broadcasting live from the Washington Park Lakehouse at the 61st Annual Albany Tulip Festival in Albany, New York. The ride from Berkshire County to Albany, New York is a beautiful drive consisting mainly of country roads. Albany is a tremendous city with much to offer in arts, architecture and culture. It is also hosting many special events in 2009, its quadcentennial year.

Over 200,000 tulip bulbs have been planted for the festival. The cumulative effect of the mass planting is stunning. When Stephanie visited Thailand several years ago she was taken to Bangkok Green which at the time supplied 80 percent of the world's orchids. Stephanie was taken to a field which had 12 million orchid stems.

Travel Deal:

Another upcoming festival is Milwaukee's Irish Fest. The event starts August 13, 2009 and continues through the16th. General Manager of the Milwaukee Pfister Hotel Joe Kurth is offering “friends and fans” of Stephanie Abrams a special rate of $159 USD per room plus taxes. Stephanie will be broadcasting live from the lobby of the hotel.

For more information visit or call 414-390-3800

The 61st Annual Tulip Festival is an important spring tradition in Albany. Festivities begin Friday May 8, 2009 with concerts held among the tulips in Washington Park. Part of the tradition is the crowning of a Tulip Queen who goes on to act as ambassador for the city. Alongside her court, the Tulip Queen performs a year of community service including volunteer projects, community functions, book drives and assisting with the Mayor's Literacy Campaign. The Tulip Queen Coronation is held Saturday May 9, 2009.

Active community member, Marcus Q. Pryor was initially asked to participate on the selection committee for the Tulip Festival. In recent years he has served as chairman for the event. Pryor owns and runs a risk management company in Albany and also serves on several boards in the city including the Capital Repertory Theater. The annual festival's success is rooted in the commitment and dedication of community activists.

The festival begins each year with the scrubbing of State St, a tradition inherited from the Netherlands. Participants dress in Dutch costume and use mops and pails to perform the action. It is more ceremonial than functional. Once the festival commences, the staff of Special Events for Albany make notes of activities going on throughout park and ask for comments from the general public. This allows them to plan ahead for the following year.

A special tulip is blooming this year in the park's formal tulip beds. It is a gift from the Netherlands in honor of the city's quadcentennial. The tulips in the city are currently at their peak. After a few weeks they will be dug up and sold. The profits go towards the Washington Park Conservancy and next year's events.
For more information visit

Mayor Gerald Jennings returns to “Traveling Feet” twenty minutes before the Tulip Queen Coronation. The success of a city's cultural climate starts at the top. Mayor Jennings has consistently supported the arts and focused the city's energies on the annual spring and summer festivities. The mayor emphasizes the arts importance in context of a historical perspective. Many of the buildings having been standing for years. Albany has the oldest museum on the east coast, the Albany Institute of History and Art. Mayor Jennings is responsible in part for the revitalization of the historic Capital Repertory Theatre as well as the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Stephanie says she is “taken by just the look of the city”.

One of the prominent features of the Albany Skyline is “the egg”. The structure is part of the Empire State Plaza built under the supervision of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. The building has two theaters that showcase the “Best of New York”. One exclusively features dance events. There is a lot of children's theater available as well as retail stores within the structure.

For more information visit

Albany boasts a glorious summer of the arts offering some of the best events in the country. There are free art events almost every evening in the city. After July 4th, Washington Park puts on free nightly musicals. The start of the summer 2009 season is High School Musical. Every Thursday night is Alive at Five, a free concert held on the riverway. Father's Day 2009 Albany Symphony Orchestra will perform a free concert under the stars. SUNY Plaza hosts concerts every Wednesday in front of their reflecting pool. Recent guests to the city include the Dali Lama, and Angelina Jolie who was in the city for the filming of the CIA film “Salt”.

The Capital Repertory Theatre is currently performing David Mamet's “Boston Marriage”. This summer the theater is producing the interactive murder mystery “Sheer Madness”. The show runs for 10 weeks. It allows the audience to choose the ending of the play at each show so there is consistent variation. The theater has 300 seats and puts on 290 performances every year, all year long.

For more information visit

Guests Include:

Marcus Q. Pryor, Chairman, Albany, NY Tulip Festival.

Sue Cleary, Director of Special Events for Albany, NY.

Gerald D. Jennings, Mayor, City of Albany, NY.

Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, Artistic Director, Capital Repertory Theatre,
Albany, NY.

Hour 2

On route to Albany, Stephanie discovered some great antique shops. She bought several porcelain pieces as well as 26 books in the Nancy Drew series that were printed in the late 1950s. Though her drive to Albany was gorgeous and worthwhile Stephanie says that her favorite type of travel is by train.

Click here to read Stephanie's Train Travel Tips for Europe.

The train ride from Penn Station to the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station allows a traveler to relax and take in the beauty of the Hudson Valley. The trip is just a little over 2 hours and is a comfortable ride. For other travel along the east coast, Amtrak provides an Auto Train. Travelers have the opportunity to take their automobile along with them.

May 9, 2009 is National Train Day. It is also the anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad when the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroad combined operations. Albany has daily service to New York City and back. There are 13 trips a day Monday through Friday with many people commuting to and from jobs. Travelers can connect to anywhere in the country out of Penn Station. Albany Amtrak offers an overnight ride to Chicago which departs at 7pm and arrives in the city at 9am.

For more information

The 29th Old Song Festival at the Altamont Fairgrounds in Altamont, New York is a concert event that includes a wide range of folk music styles and homegrown music from around the globe. Styles include Southern Appalachian music, traditional English, Irish, Dutch and French Canadian folk music, bluegrass, gospel and early American hymn singing. The festival is very focused on participatory music and dance. The audience is encouraged to take part through receiving banjo or guitar lessons or to practice singing with a gospel choir.

The festival is held June 26th -28th and is 12 miles west of Albany. The festival's support group, Old Songs, Inc., is a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping traditional music and dance alive through events and educational programs. Families can camp on the fair grounds and there are several family-friendly events including a juggler and performers of children's songs. One of the magical aspects of the festival is the crossover of songs between cultures. Many songs are known by multiple groups but in different variations.

Peggy Seeger, sister of famed folk song artist Pete Seeger, is a highlighted performer at the festival. Art Director of the event, Roger Mock, grew up listening to recordings of folk music on the radio. He was inspired him to seek out earlier folk music not usually broadcasted on the airwaves. Stephanie recalls Director Maggie Greenwald's 2000 film “Songcatcher” about a woman who travels through rural Appalachia collecting Scots-Irish ballads known in the local community. Mock says other films that have popularized the genre of traditional folk music are the Coen brother's “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Cold Mountain”. The later was nominated for an academy award for its score. And “O Brother” won the Grammy for Best Album in 2002.

For more information visit

Michele Vennard, President & CEO, Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau, says that “the Albany Tulip Festival is a real institution”. If you missed it this year it will be going on for years to come always on Mothers Day weekend. The city is hosting several other special events this year. Starting in June a Festival of Sail will take place along the Hudson River. This event includes the 20th anniversary of the Replica Ship Half Moon. September 26th is the most important day in the city's quadcentennial celebration. Festivities will take place all along the Hudson River in honor of the English explorer it was named for, Henry Hudson.

For more information visit

Executive Director of the Capital District Transit Authority, Ray Melleady, joins “Traveling Feet” briefly at the show's end via phone. Melleady had planned to join Stephanie at Washington Park but encountered heavy traffic. The traffic included many people walking to the festival.

The Capital District worked alongside the Albany Convention and Visitor's Bureau to make the festival more accessible through various shuttle operations. A park-and-ride was set up at the intersection of Madison and Eagle in the city and other points of closer access were arranged for people with disabilities. Melleady joined Stephanie on her show December 29, 2007 from the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station. The two hit it off and Melleady traveled for a few days with Stephanie in Ireland during March, 2008.

Click here to listen to the 2007 interview with Ray Melleady. His interview starts 22 minutes and 24 seconds into the hour.

For more information visit

Fun Facts:

“O Brother, Where Art Thou” was the first soundtrack in Grammy histroy to win Best Album.

Guests Include:

Debbie Sanderson, Marketing Manager, Albany Region, Amtrak.

Roger Mock, Art Director, Old Songs Festival.

Michele Vennard, President & CEO, Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Raymond Melleady, Executive Director, Capital District Transportation Authority.

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