Combine Congressman Maurice Hinchey, the Maverick Concert Hall, and the Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC), and you have the Conservancy’s 2012 Vernal Fling, a music and dining event that honors the soon-to-retire Hinchey.

On Saturday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Maverick, the annual WLC celebration will begin with the music of Perry Beekman’s jazz quartet, playing throughout the evening, along with special guest Warren Bernhardt. A cocktail hour will be followed by a musical invocation from Garry Kvistad of Woodstock Chimes, leading into the presentation of the William R. Ginsberg Stewardship Award to Congressman Hinchey. Then the festivities will continue with food, drinks, and dancing.

“The courage that Maurice Hinchey demonstrated in the earliest stages of his career in the New York State legislature — exposing Love Canal and investigating organized crime in waste hauling — has never ebbed,” remarked Patty Goodwin, president of the board of WLC. “In Washington, he has stood up to equally powerful interests.”

A book compiled by the Conservancy for the presentation features many of his projects, including the fight to get GE’s pollution of the Hudson River cleaned up, strengthening of the SEQRA process, opposition to hazardous waste burning, support for recycling, and most recently, the struggle against hydrofracking.

“Congressman Hinchey has been a fierce watchdog for people and the environment,” said Nadia Steinzor, WLC board member and Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project staffer. “By demanding that energy companies disclose the toxic chemicals they use [in fracking] and play by the same rule as other industries, he’s been a true leader in the fight for government responsibility and corporate accountability.”

Hinchey has also been instrumental in promoting and refining conservation easement law, a vital part of WLC’s efforts to protect local land.

Bill Ginsberg, for whom the stewardship award was named, was a prominent attorney and leader in land preservation nationwide, as well as being an important conservation advocate in the Catskills. He was instrumental in writing the original Comeau Easement.

This year marks the first time the Vernal Fling will be held at the Maverick Concert Hall, which shares connections with both the Conservancy and Congressman Hinchey. WLC holds an easement on a portion of the Maverick property that will protect that land in perpetuity. The Maverick is presently completing a renovation made possible by a grant secured by Hinchey. The Vernal Fling will be the first event to be held in the renovated space.

Garry and Diane Kvistad, Grace and Jerry Wapner, and Elizabeth Lesser and Tom Bullard are serving as honorary co-chairs for the event, which is also sponsored by Catskill Mountainkeeper.++

Woodstock Land Conservancy’s Vernal Fling will be held on Saturday, May 12, at 5:30 pm at the Maverick Concert Hall on Maverick Road in Woodstock. Individual tickets are $75 in advance, or $90 at the door. Individual and business sponsorship opportunities are also available as follows: Landscape Sponsor, $150, includes 1 ticket; Stewardship Sponsor, $300, includes 2 tickets; Overlook Sponsor, $850, includes 4 tickets. Tickets may be purchased by calling 845-679-6480 or by visiting WLC’s website at www.woodstocklandconservancy.org.