The Barge Celebrates its 13th Birthday

The Barge Canal Coffee Company, located at 37 Lebanon Street, celebrated its thirteenth birthday on Saturday, September 26.As thirteen is a number held dear to members of the Colgate community, the Barge threw a birthday party to acknowledge the monumental anniversary of the first business Colgate brought downtown.

“The Barge B-Day Bash” kept the music alive in Hamilton for thirteen consecutive hours featuring a different artist each hour. The performers were friends of the Barge, either Colgate students and graduates or local musicians, who congregated to celebrate thirteen years of the Barge’s successful mission to create intimate Colgate/Hamilton relations.

Assistant Manager and Administrator of Entertainment, Susan Pasachnik, willingly clocked an admirable twenty-one hours on Saturday to ensure that the steady flow of “thirteen hours of entertainment for thirteen years” would be a total success.

The anticipated thirteenth performer and Colgate alumnus, Jeff Fein ’08, unfortunately could not attend at the last minute, but his physical presence did not refrain him from sharing his musical gift. He gave a festive rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the Barge over the coffee shop’s speakerphone and also performed a duet to Sarah Mclachlan’s “Angel” with the accompaniment of live performer, Sarah Poulette.

“At any given time you see professors, students, townspeople, high school students all sitting and chatting. Where else in town or on the hill will you see this? This is what we are promoting through our music,” Pasachnik, an employee of ten years, said.

Alumna Jess Kielty ’09, who lived above the Barge her senior year, nostalgically reminisced about the Barge.

“The barge was literally my living room.I looked forward to ending my day in the warm atmosphere and finishing my work with a hot cup of tea and coconut macaroon,” Kielty said.

The coffee shop’s name remembers the Barge Canal that ran through the center of Hamilton before the train put it out of business.Completed in 1878, this canal was a feeder from the Erie Canal and connected to the Susquehanna, which connected to the Hudson.The current bricks located near the windows on the outside of the building are living history, remainders of the former loading dock for boats.

Before the beloved Barge and after the canal/train era, several attempts were made to capitalize on the location. Following the antique shop, bookstore and “Bubbah’s Burrito’s” the Barge finally claimed the spot.

For thirteen years, customers have been able to enjoy a variety of exhibited art forms.Each month, different art displays are hung on the walls of the popular hangout spot.

“[This is a place with] alternative vibrant music in a substance-free environment. We get people that want to go out, but not necessarily go out to party. We get groups who come in for scrabble tournaments or bring their own music.It’s nice to have an alternative place for the kids to go,” Pasachnik said.

Every Friday, the musically inclined are free to express themselves on open mic night. On Friday, October 2, for instance, first-year and budding solo artist, Will Hazzard, will open the show with his own songs.On Saturday nights, The Barge has a music series that features Colgate performers along with regional and national touring acts.

After thirteen years of welcoming students, strangers and local citizens, the Barge is now on cyberspace. With Facebook and Myspace pages, the hangout is even more in tune with college and high school students.

Pasachnik explained the benefits of working in a college and high school town.

“My daughter is grown up now and moved away and these are all my adopted kids.Some of them call me mom. They are so sweet and they keep touch. It’s like one big extended family, which is one of the important purposes we serve,” Pasachnik said.