BAGEL FESTIVAL HAS HURLEYVILLE ROOTS
Monticello’s Signature Event is August 8
by John Conway
MONTICELLO, August 2021 – The village of Monticello, officially proclaimed far and wide as “the Bagel Capital,” will host its ninth annual Bagel Festival on August 8, and, as usual, the proceedings will have a distinctive Hurleyville flavor.
That’s because one of the inspirations for the festival—the brainchild of Monticello native Jeff Siegel—was the fact that Hurleyville’s Louis “Lebel” Wichinsky patented a bagel making machine in 1968.
It took Mr. Wichinsky– a Hurleyville baker and former aircraft mechanic the New York Times once described as strongly resembling Mel Brooks, another inventive personality with a Hurleyville connection– more than 20 years of tinkering to finally perfect his machine, but its output of 600 dozen bagels an hour forever linked the distinctive circular pastry to Sullivan County.
Mr. Siegel used that connection, and the fact that the Monticello Bagel Bakery has become a veritable institution on Broadway in the village, as his motivation for creating the first Monticello Bagel Festival in 2013. The inaugural event drew as estimated 5,000 participants, and it has grown steadily ever since.
The Monticello Village Board, the Thompson Town Board, and both houses of the New York State Legislature have all passed resolutions over the years proclaiming Monticello as “the Bagel Capital.”
This year’s event will run from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and will feature more than 40 vendors and 30 community organizations participating. Food and drink vendors range from the obligatory Monticello Bagel Bakery and Grizzly Bagels to Spacey Tracy’s Deep Fried Pickles and Angelina & Adrianna’s Italian Ices.
Another Hurleyville connection with the Bagel Festival is that Albee Bockman, a native and longtime business owner in the hamlet, will open the day’s activities with his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Various musical performances and other entertainment continues throughout the day, with just about something for everyone. All activities will take place on Broadway, which is temporarily being re-christened as “Bagel Boulevard.”