CATSKILL — The former Catskill Game Farm, a beloved blast from Catskill’s past that attracted visitors from all over the world, sold last week for just under $2 million.
Information on the new owners was not immediately available Monday because the deed had not been filed.
The 150-acre site was home to more than 2,000 animals, including the celebrated April the giraffe, whose pregnancy and childbirth was viewed online by people all over the world. The Game Farm was a local favorite from 1933 until the business closed permanently on Columbus Day, Oct. 9, 2006, after 73 years of operation.
Ben and Cathy Ballone purchased the former Catskill Game Farm property in 2012. They offered self-guided tours, camping and transformed the former giraffe house into a luxurious inn.
“We want to thank you all for your tremendous support and following over the course of the nine years we have had the privilege of owning this local landmark,” the Ballones said in a statement on the Old Catskill Game Farm’s Facebook page. “It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to shift our focus to other endeavors.”
The Ballones are looking to slow things down, Cathy Ballone said Monday.
“We had a family tragedy a few years ago and due to that, we wanted to have a little less excitement in our lives,” she said. “We’re hoping to slow down a little bit.”
Cathy Ballone plans to focus on her wedding planning business, Cathy’s Elegant Events, she said. Her husband is looking to create another glamping site — a fusion of glamour and camping — she added.
“We have full confidence that the new owners will be able to fulfill the dreams we had laid out for the property and continue to uphold the historic significance and integrity of the Old Catskill Game Farm,” according to the statement. “We hope that you will show the same support for the new owners as they continue to preserve the history of the property while creating a new and exciting property business for the Catskill region.”
The Ballones’ long-term plans for the property included a campground and RV park, Cathy Ballone said in October 2019, when the Long Neck Inn opened.
Without naming the new owners, Cathy Ballone said they have the same interests and goals for the site as the Ballones.
“They intend on continuing with the same type of projects we were — camping, the inn, other accommodation type of things,” Cathy Ballone said Monday.
The county Economic Development and Planning and Tourism departments will be meeting with the new owners Tuesday.
“We really appreciate the support of the community in the last nine years,” Cathy Ballone said. “Even in the face of my family’s tragedy the community has been really exceptional.”