“Bassett is our hospital,” the couple agreed.
On the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit to Cooperstown to discuss area tourism, the pair agreed that it takes the entire community to keep tourism up and keep things running smoothly.
“Volunteerism is as important of an industry as tourism,” Kilmer-Purcell said. “Tourism has been moving more toward an experience-based industry lately - more about what you can do somewhere, rather than what you can see. We all need to work together, plan and volunteer to make this area a place people can visit for more than a day or two.”
With a population of fewer than 600, Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge’s homestead, the village of Sharon Springs, is “100 percent volunteer-driven,” the couple said. The village’s emergency medical services, as well as the fire department, rely solely on volunteers.
This weekend, Sharon Spring’s fifth annual Garden Party Festival will be held. Hundreds of local craftspeople, artists, farmers and foodies will be there to mingle and encourage visitors to participate in small-town life. It takes many volunteers to put together a successful festival each year, Kilmer-Purcell said.
The Beekmans owe much of their own success to volunteers and neighbors, who helped them get started in Sharon Springs and showed them the ins and outs of farming, they said.
The pair said they wish President Obama would come volunteer on the Beekman Farm someday.
“We’d love for him to come see our farm,” Kilmer-Purcell said. “But he has to do some chores, too! He’s gotta pitch in!”