Text by Therese Maher
Photography by both Therese Maher and Katarina Hybenova
I went to Onderdonk Farmhouse last weekend for the Arbitration Rock Festival. The combination of local history and live bands is more fun than you might imagine. Or was that local history and beer? I forget. Anyway, this place has got some real appeal.
As a resident of Bushwick, I have become accustomed to the warehouses and garages of my neighbourhood’s industrial past. The vast stretches of concrete are punctuated with roller door garages and giant storage facilities. I mean this in the nicest possible way: Bushwick has about as much charm as a shipping container. I think I’ve been in need of some pastoral therapy lately because I’m not a New York native and my Astroturf backyard just isn’t cutting it. To my utter delight, when I rode along Flushing Ave looking for Onderdonk Farmhouse I found just that. A farmhouse. A bona fide house-on-the-prairie wet dream.
The house dates back to 1709 and has been used for some pretty varied purposes. The site has been scrap glass depository, a geranium nursery, and a shop that supplied machines to the Apollo space program. It is now a museum and occasionally hosts flea markets and music festivals.
And the arbitration? Well, after ongoing disputes, in 1769 a rock was placed on the property to officially mark the Brooklyn/Queens boarder. The boarder has since moved but the rock remains.
So that’s the history bit. Let’s talk festivities. There were bands playing from midday till almost midnight. Beers were generously priced at three bucks and dogs were welcome (my favourite part). In between sets there were rounds of limbo and a more obscure Dutch game called ‘Spike a Poope’, which involved inserting a nail into an empty beer bottle from a backwards-squatted position.
Hmmm. Maybe not one for the museum walls.
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, I really recommend a trip to the Farmhouse. Either take a weekend tour (and catch the flea market) or wait till the next festival.