Hooray for rugelach; summer's no bummer when Izzy's in town

June 13, 2002
 By Barry Lewis
 Times Herald-Record
Izzy's back.
Mitzi's back.
And soon they'll be rolling rugelach at Fialkoff's.
As faithful to the county as newlyweds are to each other, our summer visitors are making their way back up to Sullivan for another summer in the Catskills.
In the Far East, the principle of yin and yang provide the intellectual framework for what the Chinese see as the foundation of the entire universe.
In our area, which extends as far east as Bloomingburg, I like to use the principal of Izzy and Mitzi to explain the balance of summer life in Sullivan County.
Izzy's the man behind Izzy's Knishes of Loch Sheldrake. Each summer he leaves the heat of Brooklyn to satisfy the pallets of us kashacrazed folks.
Mitzi Crane is the snowbird author of "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Monticello" and a recent book of vignettes. When the mercury rises in Delray Beach she takes flight with the rest of her Florida flock. We mutter under our breaths as the Izzys and Mitzis arrive at the banks of Route 17 and suddenly triple the county's 70,000 year-round population.
These visitors walk in lanes where we want to drive, ignore the lanes where they should drive and religiously fill all the lanes at the markets.
But we seem to forget they also fill the usually empty cash registers.
It's our seasonal ebb and flow.
We hate them, we love them, but let's face it, we can't do without them.
Or without the estimated $270 million the tourism industry brings into Sullivan County each year. That's $20 million in taxes and $53 million in payroll.
And those numbers, from the county visitors association, are nearly two years old. So they don't include the recent boom spurred by casino speculators and a performing arts center.
And that doesn't include the aspirin or toothpaste.
"The average person coming up to the county spends $81 per day and stays on an average of 3.7 days," says Roberta Byron-Lockwood, president of the Sullivan County Visitors Association.
"But that figure is based on what they spend for hotels, restaurants and admissions. It doesn't include the incidentals ... the gas, the fishing lures, the things people forget."
She adds that's more than people spend per day on visits to Niagara Falls or Cooperstown.
Byron-Lockwood admits the county is probably down about $55 million to $60 million from it's heyday, but hey – you lose a hundred hotels and a few thousand bungalow colonies – and you're gonna feel the pinch.
Which brings me back to this sudden influx of tourists. It ain't so sudden.
Long before city folks wanted a little get together on Max Yasgur's dairy farm, long before tribes wanted to call this county home and long before borscht became a dirty word, we had summer guests.
It's what happens in a resort area.
"You think traffic along Route 42 is new?" says Steve Levine, who wears two hats that give him a unique perspective on the summer scene.
As Town of Fallsburg supervisor, he's got a municipality that goes from 12,000 year-round residents to one that practically reopens entire hamlets to squeeze in some 60,000 folks during the dog days of summer.
As owner of the family-run Fallsburg Lumber company, he says the spring and summer months account for nearly 60 percent of his business.
 "And the rest of the year we're selling to places who are building because of the summer guests," says Levine. "If we didn't have people who stay here all summer, we'd be like those small towns in upstate New York. We'd have nothing."
Think about it.
You live in a resort area. People pay good money to visit in the summer where you live year-round.
So it's time you stop the muttering and the snickering and the sneering.
Relax. Enjoy the view. Welcome back Izzy and Mitzi and try the cheese rugelach.


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