Friends of Connetquot River State Park Preserve | PO Box 472 | Oakdale, NY | 11769 | Contact Us

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FOC Receives Grants!

The Friends are proud of the support from the foundations whose links appear below. The capacity building grants they have awarded us will greatly help in strengthening our organization for the benefit of Connetquot River State Park Preserve:

The Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation

New York State Council on the Arts

Parks & Trails New York

Upstate History Alliance

Click here to read the details of these grants

Past Friends of Connetquot Events

Click the event headings to read the recap and see the photos (when available.)

For recaps of recurring Friends' events see the following pages which highlight those events:

Saturday, May 2, 2015 - I Love My Park Day

Please click on any of the photos below to see more. Please note that you do NOT need to be a Facebook user to view the photos...they are publicly available for all to enjoy.

I Love My Park Day - 2015 - Photos by Ginny Fields

Posted by Friends of Connetquot on Saturday, May 2, 2015

Friday, October 10, 2014 - Annual Fall Fishing Outing

Please click on any of the photos below to see more. Please note that you do NOT need to be a Facebook user to view the photos...they are publicly available for all to enjoy.

Sunday, May 18, 2014 - Wildlife Up Close and Personal with Bobby and Cathy Horvath

Please click on any of the photos below to see more from another terrific program. Please note that you do NOT need to be a Facebook user to view the photos...they are publicly available for all to enjoy.

Saturday, May 3, 2014 - I Love My Park Day Recap

Recap by Edith Wilson and Fran Levesque

Enthusiasm and energy abounded during I Love My Park Day among the more than fifty volunteers who, on the 3rd of May, arrived at Connetquot Preserve ready to show their love with tools in hand. We are extremely grateful to Board member and Volunteer Coordinator Fran Levesque for the success of this event and to all our volunteers for the tremendous amount of work they accomplished at the Preserve on this day. In addition, some volunteers have offered to help afterward and we will gladly contact them again as soon as a project surfaces.

Our volunteers tackled a variety of necessary tasks. Turtle rafts were refurbished and raised (it seems this work presented Friends' Board member Richard Remmer an excuse to swim in the pond); paddock fencing was repaired; our newly built butterfly garden was partially planted and its pathways covered with wood chips; the Green Belt Trail in the Hatchery area was restored using wood chips and an incredible amount of people power. Your editor worked alongside several other hard-working volunteers, among them Rebecca Fitzmaurice, turning over the soil in the new butterfly garden; Rebecca's vigorous and fast soil-turning work was nothing less than impressive. I Love My Park Day even spilled over into Sunday, May 4th when volunteers donning waders helped Park Manager Gil Bergen stock fish in the Connetquot River.

Saturday, April 19, 2014 - Photography Workshop Recap

Recap by Edith Wilson and Fran Levesque

On April 19th, in his usual easy style, Bob Labuski discussed the features of various photographic cameras, lenses, and other equipment that are available to photographers in their quest to capture stunning images. His popular Photography Workshop for Beginners seems to attract not only inexperienced photographers but also some with more advanced skills. This only added to the workshop as different backgrounds enriched the discussions. Beginners gleaned insight from Bob and other participants on topics including basic photo accessories, how to use them and where to get the best online deals. It is definitely a worthwhile workshop in all respects. October 11, 2014 is the date for the next Photography Workshop.

Saturday, January 25, 2014 - Hunt Dinner

Recap by Carolyn and Mark Romaine

The Tuxedos Save the Day

This year's annual Hunt Dinner was held on January 25th in the main dining room of the South Side Sportsmen's Club, otherwise known as the Main Building of Connetquot River State Park Preserve. The room was full of good cheer and merriment, and, as always, a number of stories were told. The most current of which was the recent battle between several tuxedo-clad gentlemen and the heating system of the building. Fortunately for the guests, the tuxedos won when they found the reset button, and all were able to dine in comfort. Oysters and Filet Mignon were enjoyed by everyone. But most enjoyable was the feeling that there is no better time than that spent with people who share the same interest and passion. As you might agree, Connetquot always replenishes the mind and the soul.

Thursday, November 7, 2013 - Fall Fishing Outing Recap

It was a beautiful and exceptionally warm November 7th that found Idle Hour Fly Fishermen Gerry Sabatino, Charlie Dorchak, Carmine Guastella, Joe Mikulas and Ed Kelleher sweating and working hard in the hatchery holding area. In preparation for the Fall Fishing Outing the following day, they were netting and loading over 250 reluctant fish into the large fish trolley which was to take them down the river. Our intrepid team walked carefully while dragging the loaded trolley and distributed the eager passengers liberally along the various sites where the anglers would be fishing next day. It was hard work, but well worth the effort since this was going to be the first fishing outing the Friends have had in two years. Last year's outing was one of the many events that fell victim to the horrors of Sandy.

Though still bright and sunny, the day of the outing was chilly and felt more like the November day it was. Some wind gusts were blowing and playing havoc with casting, but the most important thing to report is that there were fish to catch, and there were anglers who were enjoying catching them.

After a great morning session it was time to head back to the clubhouse for a wonderful lunch. The food was served by and from the menu of the Snapper Inn; it was delicious, as usual. Our thanks go to Richard Remmer, a long-time FOC board member and past president of the Friends, who owns the Snapper Inn and always supplies our fishermen with a fine spread from his popular restaurant each time we have this event.

Those in attendance seemed to enjoy the fishing, the lunch, and communing with the other fishermen very much. Several members, such as Don Winter, from Orvis - New York, said he doesn't often get to see some of these people except at events such as this, and he looks forward to them annually. Joe and Ed complimented Bruce Morabito on being a one-man combine machine for catching brown trout. He must have caught a dozen of them at least. He is a great fisherman and always an artisan to watch.

The chatter, while filled with joking and fishing stories soon drifted around to informal discussion of the current state of the hatchery. Those in the know updated others who expressed trepidation for the future of the hatchery, park fishing in general, and even the impact this situation may have on the future of the entire preserve.

In conclusion, everyone enjoyed the day. The weather, the people, the food and the fishing were great in a place that never disappoints us - the Connetquot River State Park Preserve. We hope to see you there next year.

Sunday, May 19th, 2013 - Wildlife Up Close and Personal: Presentation by Bobby and Cathy Horvath

Have you ever been eye-ball-to-eye-ball with a wild creature? All of the many inquisitive adults and children who attended the Friends' wildlife program on May 19 found themselves looking deep into the eyes of many interesting wild animals that Bobby and Cathy Horvath have rehabilitated but cannot release back into nature because of injuries that would make their survival in the wild impossible.

Everyone was fascinated with the parade of creatures, which in turn seemed every bit as curious about the people surrounding them. The Horvaths, who are licensed rehabilitators—assisted by their charming five-year-old daughter, Sadie—took turns introducing each one as they talked about its unique role in the ecology, its habits, and more; at the same time they responded to many questions and comments from the audience. One by one came mammals, raptors, reptiles, and even a marsupial—namely, fox, barn owl, screech owl, peregrine falcon, box turtle, a young opossum, and several others. The many photographers in the crowd snapped away again and again, each hoping to capture the essence of the mysterious life in front of them. The young children seemed especially interested in the American Kestrel that Sadie let perch on her head for all to see, and they were not less interested in the complimentary refreshments the Friends provided for everyone that included fresh-popped corn.

Time stood still at Connetquot on that day. The Horvaths, the wildlife, and the crowd seemed to be spellbound. The program ran longer than expected because nobody wanted the moment to end.

Sunday, March 24th, 2013 - Friends of Connetquot First Annual Trail Clean-up

On a chilly but sunny Sunday, March 24th about 40 great volunteers came to help the trails at Connetquot River Park Preserve.  After Sandy hundreds of trees fell and the heavy work was done by professionals, but many branches, light limbs and debris littered the trails. The February blizzard caused more damage and after many years of cutbacks it was time for a helping hand.

Crew chiefs met at various gates around the preserve and cleaned debris and worked into the interior trails. Fire gates needed repair and new hinges and had to be re-hung.  The river crossing at Allwood Street was opened up and many bags of trash were filled. Many hands make light work and thanks to all, most crews were done by 1:00 p.m., in time for a ride. Park managers Gil Bergen and Jessica Anderson-Ruiz supplied trash bags and work gloves. The Friends of Connetquot led by Rita and Jerry Trapani and Aimee and Randy Schmitt supplied coffee and goodies for all. With over 50 miles of trails there is still a lot of work to do and we are planning more of these volunteer days.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 - Hunt Dinner

Recap by Ginny Fields

On a cold Saturday January evening with the moon full and snow on the ground, 45 people from the local area and points east and west who dressed in formal attire convened on the Men’s Dining Room of the historic Connetquot River State Park Preserve (the former Snedecor’s Inn and Southside Sportsmen’s Club) to attend the Annual Hunt Dinner.

The group hung their coats in the lockers of the old member’s fishing and hunting locker room and assembled in a room off the side of the Main Room where they were treated to crudités, cheeses, crackers, fruits, seared tuna, smoked Irish salmon, shrimp, a raw oyster bar (the most popular area), and traditional refreshments while they introduced themselves to new acquaintances and renewed old friendships.

Soon it was time to make their way into the beautifully and formally decorated Main Room where the guests enjoyed a four-course delicious meal catered by the Irish Coffee Pub. Perhaps the most enjoyable parts of the evening were the stories told by the one-and-only Gil Bergen (who has been the Park Manager for the past 65 years) and who had some corroboration and additional chronicles relayed by Richard Remmer. The only disappointment of the night was that the ambiance, congeniality and warmth of the enjoyable evening had to end and further narratives and anecdotes of days gone by would have to wait until next year’s Hunt Dinner.

June 16, 2012 - Friends of Connetquot Second Annual Evening of Polo and Music

The weather gods smiled upon the Friends of Connetquot in 2012. Last year’s event was rained out three times before we could hold it. In 2012 the evening of June 16th was bright and cloudless with a slight breeze and neither hot or humid. Almost ninety supporters purchased tickets and had a super evening of exciting polo great food and drink and music. Bob Ceparano and the crew at Country Farms Polo pulled out all the stops and put together an action packed game of polo. The score see-sawed back and forth and in the last moments Country Farm scored and won the game. Arena polo is played on a smaller field in an arena surrounded by boards and a high fence to keep the ball in play and protect the spectators. The arena teams are made of three players each, as opposed to 4 players on the full field. The smaller area of play makes for a faster, more action paced game.

Music this year was provided by Big Mike and the Blue Streak a great local duo of guitarists, harmonica and vocals. They played a short set before the game and a longer set at half-time. The national anthem was sung beautifully by a local high school student.

Many generous sponsors helped make the evening a success. Christine Hartman. Bill Hempel, Al from B & G fine foods all donated to the event. East Islip Lumber donated a family 4 pack of Ducks tickets to be our second prize in the 50-50 raffle. The cash winner Vern kindly donated most of his winnings back to the Friends. Blue Point Brewery donated a keg of their ‘toasted lager’, Jimmy Smiley’s Burgers was there again this year with the best burgers on Long Island and Matt from Vineyard 48 vintners had their award winning Long Island wine and donated back most of his sales, Thank you to all.

The great board of the Friends supported the event and volunteered their time to make the event the success it was. Aimee and Randy Schmitt worked the gate and sold raffles and merchandise, Bob and Edith Wilson served the beer and water, Bill Hempel, his friend Vern brought the tents, Bob Lubuski and Bob Ploetz took photos, Ginny Fields, Ed Kellerer and Liz Bloom bought tickets and Jerry and Rita Trapani did everything else.

This was our second year of this event and it was a resounding success. Please join us back at Connetquot on October 7th for our 15th Annual Gala click here for more info and "like us" on Facebook.

Photos on this page Courtesy of Bob Labuski - Click the photos to enlarge

June 25, 2011 - Polo and Music

The rain gods were against us all in late June, and we had to cancel the event on both the original date and the raindate. Luckily Toby Walker was available for a third raindate on June 25th.  Bob Ceparano and Country Farms Polo were very generous in offering their wonderful facility for our first foray into this kind of fundraiser. Despite having to change the date so many times we sold 72 tickets for the event. Gates opened at 6:00 P.M. and our guests were greeted by an opening set by fellow farrier and friend Dean Fritcher. Dean is a student of Toby’s and did a great job in warming up the crowd. At 7:00 P.M.,Toby took the stage and played a stirring rendition of Sousa’s” Stars and Stripes Forever”.  The teams were introduced and the game began. Arena polo is quick paced and there is never a dull moment. The announcer Jerry Napp kept everyone well informed.

At halftime, Toby took to the stage again, (or should I say got on the truck bed.) Toby is a consummate professional and gave us a great show full of songs and stories for almost an hour.  All through the evening Smiley Burger and Vineyard 48 cooked and served the best burgers and Long island wines.  The Friends held a 50-50 raffle and the lucky winner took home $210.00. The game finished up around 9:00 and all headed home safely and happy.

Many thanks to Country Farms Equestrian Event Arena, Toby Walker, Dean Fritcher, and the members of the Friends of Connetquot board who helped make the event a success: Rita Trapani, Aimee and Randy Schmitt, Joe Mikulas, Ed Kellerer, Bob Labuski, Ginny Fields, Liz Bloom and Rita’s brother John Linitz and all who supported our event.  Hopefully we will do this again next year.  For more information about future events like this, be sure sign up for our email newsletter (in the left hand column.) To see more about Toby visit, "Google" him or find him on YouTube. If you would like to see more about polo, visit

Photos on this page Courtesy of Bob Labuski - Click the photos to enlarge

More photos are available at Newsday's Explore L.I. website