It may be impossible to live in the Caroga Lake region and not have an affection for Sherman’s Amusement Park. For native Ted Farnsworth, the significance of the park is something he describes as immeasurable. Now, many years later, Farnsworth is once again giving back to the park with a million-dollar donation that will help transform the space into an amphitheater for the arts.
Farnsworth, along with business partner Rod Vanderbilt, presented Founder and Executive Artistic Director Kyle Barrett Price with a ceremonial $1 million check for the Caroga Arts Collective late last month. The check helped mark the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Sherman’s and the 10th anniversary of the Caroga Lake Music Festival, now under the umbrella of the Caroga Arts Collective.
While growing up in Caroga Lake, Farnsworth attended Wheelerville Union Free School. Today, he has made a name for himself in the entertainment industry, including recently being named in Variety magazine a Top 30 Visionary and Disrupter of the Entertainment and Media Business of 2021. As the executive producer of movies starring Al Pacino, John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, he is no stranger to working with top celebrities. Recently, Farnsworth acquired one of the largest short-form video platforms, Lomotif, which just signed a deal with Universal Music worldwide. This deal gives Farnsworth access to video and music rights to several artists such as Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Kenny Chesney. Farnsworth said despite his busy schedule, his hometown is always a priority to him.
“This felt like the right time to reach out to Kyle and get things jump-started. This is the town I love and I really believe in its ability to be a top-notch entertainment destination. You’ll have an amphitheater with a sunset and a lake as its backdrop. And to have it at Sherman’s, a place where I always felt taken care of, all of the kids from the town did,” said Farnsworth.
The 8-acre Sherman’s property overlooking the lake, at routes 10 and 29A on West Caroga Lake, was transferred over to the arts collective in 2020 for $1 by previous owner George Abdella, a local attorney.
Price said Farnsworth’s donation came about at a perfect time, noting that Farnsworth has been an invaluable resource to the Caroga Arts Collective.
“The donation came about almost serendipitously,” Price said. “I’ve gotten to know Ted and Rod over the past few years and it’s always a blast talking with them. When I told Ted about our goals he was very intrigued. We both call this place home. The donation provides a special spark to our plan, it’s a total game-changer for us.”
The collaboration between Farnsworth and Caroga Arts Collective has already proved successful. Price has started booking next year’s shows for the Caroga Lake Music Festival and Farnsworth will be adding Hollywood talent. There are also plans for a film festival to run as an extension of the Myhill Film Series.
“My dream is to see Sherman’s Amusement Park as it once was, a place for family entertainment in the Adirondacks,” Farnsworth said. “I believe our collaboration will raise the profile of Caroga Arts Collective to new heights in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.”.
He credits his recent success to Zash, a short-form video app with over 400 million lifetime users from around the world. The company combines movies, music, syndicated television, and short-form video content, which will help to put Caroga Arts Collective into a new realm, according to Farnsworth.
Price said they are still in the first phase of developing the property into such a venue, adding that the donation gets them very close to their goal, along with the 100 percent participation of their board and advisory. Price said they decided to work with LTRW Architecture and Preservation of Albany after seeing their transformation of Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs.
“We look forward to curating unforgettable moments and experiences for the generations of today and tomorrow,” Price said. “In turn, this will help spur this wonderful town and culturally significant sites into an Adirondack destination once again. This transformation will allow for us to have year-round programs and artist residencies.”
The Caroga Arts Collective was formed in 2016 when a 10.5-acre property known as Myhill was donated to the Caroga Lake Music Festival by Bruce and Richard Veghte. It’s located about a quarter-mile from Sherman’s. Myhill was the former estate of Myer and Hildegarde Schine, who were the owners of the Glove and Hippodrome Theaters in Gloversville. Myhill has a rich history – Frank Sinatra, Irving Berlin and Elvis Presley attended movie premieres there. Today, they attract over 100 musicians from the world’s leading orchestras, ensembles, and music schools. Price said this gift by Farnsworth and Vanderbilt will specifically help to build the new stage house and renovate the Carriage House at Myhill, all under the project’s phase one.
Despite Farnsworth’s busy LA schedule, he is still very much involved in projects based out of New York, including movie projects in Syracuse and nearby Little Falls. He credits his childhood for his ability to maintain his warm and down-to-earth nature.
“It is such a special place, it’s very emotional for me, it’s the place that gave me so much,” said Farnsworth, who is not related to the reporter of this story. “In this industry, it’s important to keep to your values, the importance of family, and that’s what that town did for me. We have given Kyle open access to all our deals and we are thrilled to be able to help him. The big story of this is they will be able to book bigger acts and really bring attention to what they will have to offer.”
To learn more about the Caroga Arts Collective visit carogaarts.org.