Mike_Doughty1By Linda Kellett, Special to Art in the Adirondacks

FORT PLAIN — Fresh paint, improved lighting, restorative work on the foyer’s tin ceiling, distinctive banners, and expanded floor space greeted visitors to Historic Unity Hall on July 11 as Mike Doughty, the frontman of the ‘90s alternative rock band Soul Coughing, and Ross Cashiola, of Hotel Brotherhood, brought their distinctive sounds to the former Universalist Church here.

Thanks to an infusion of cash from an anonymous donor, Amish workers and local volunteers labored feverishly to dress up the majestic, 120-year-old structure at the corner of Center and Mohawk streets in Fort Plain in time for the arrival of musicians and guests.

Critical needs such as roofing and masonry repairs and mechanical systems (including heating, cooling, electrical, and lighting) remain, but the mid-summer facelift goes a long way toward making the once-condemned structure slated for demolition more inviting and presentable.

An online Kickstarter campaign, established to raise money for equipment to improve the quality of sound during concerts and to support the ongoing summer music series, has also been launched.

MVC volunteer1As noted on the Kickstarter website, “Project creators set a funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing — projects must reach their funding goals to receive any money.”

The nonprofit Mohawk Valley Collective, which owns Unity Hall, is looking for pledged donations of any amount in order to reach their $2,500 goal. In addition to helping the organization reach its goal, people backing the funding initiative can receive prizes at different contribution levels. For example, people pledging $5 will get acknowledgement on the organization’s website. Backers committing to a contribution of $20 will receive free admission for one to a show of their choice. Pledges in the amount of $50 net the contributor a limited edition MVC tee shirt, and so on.

To view a video about the Unity Hall music program, the MVC’s fundraising campaign, or to make a pledge, please go to http://kck.st/1DsMUgb. Only 40 days remain in this campaign. Please help the MVC to reach its goal!

Looking ahead, event organizers are gearing up for the third annual River Through Time celebration in Fort Plain’s Haslett Park on Saturday, Aug. 8th.

As in the past, the event will feature free concerts with top rate local musicians like Cosby Gibson & Tom Staudle, Stone Soup, Spike and the Boys, and Jocelyn Arndt. Yet to be confirmed is a performance by Mike Hayes and Will Schuyler of Max Violet.

The RTT, this year benefitting the Victorious Life Church’s roof repair project, will also feature a chicken barbecue prepared by Frankie Slater, a dunking booth, children’s activities, and raffle prizes. Advance barbecue tickets can be purchased at the Mohawk Valley Regional Visitors Center at 89 Church St. in Canajoharie.

The non-profit MVC has the mission of supporting arts and cultural events in Montgomery County. It is also dedicated to the restoration and adaptive reuse of Unity Hall and another of the area’s historic architectural gems, the former West Hill School in Canajoharie.

Funding for 2015 programs and the River Through Time event has been made possible, in part, through grants by the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the NYS Canal Corporation, and additional funding from the Montgomery County Occupancy Tax administered by the Montgomery County Legislature. Also partnering in support of the concert programming is the Erie Station Bar & Grill of Fort Plain, which is catering the events, and WEXT-97.7 FM.

For more information, please call 518-993-5506 or e-mail [email protected].