Plans to mark the 400th anniversary of the summer when two Europeans independently explored eastern New York are firming up and getting some funding.
County officials have tentatively set a theme of “Explore Saratoga County” for local participation in the 2009 event, which is being coordinated at the state and national levels.
The county will receive $45,000 in funding from the state Quadricentennial Commission, which until recently had little money.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation creating a federal Hudson-Fulton-Champlain 400th Commemoration Commission with the power to award grants up to $20,000 for the celebration. The Senate already approved it.
The commission still needs approval from President Bush, but if established it “would help New York state by creating wonderful opportunities to increase tourism-based revenue in many of our local communities,” said U.S. Rep John McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, who co-sponsored the bill along with all other members of the New York congressional delegation.
Saratoga County’s preliminary plans are to concentrate an event per month from April through October and help publicize other local community activities.
The county’s Celebrate 400 Committee met Wednesday and discussed ideas ranging from a kickoff with people linking hands across bridges to promotion of a Native American festival in Saratoga Springs in September.
The state Hudson Fulton Champlain Quadricentennial has a $4 million allocation in the new state budget, and will provide $45,000 in funding each to 16 counties, including Saratoga. Another $45,000 will be split between Saratoga Springs and Schuylerville, commission Director Robert E. Bullock told the committee. The county and communities will need to match that amount.
Communities, schools and nonprofit organizations like historical societies can also qualify for $1,000 mini-grants, Bullock said, that can be used for nearly any relevant promotion.
“This is not about three men, it’s about 400 years of progress from those explorations,” said Bullock, who lives in Saratoga Springs.
The quadricentennial will mark the 400th anniversary of the year European explorers Henry Hudson first sailed up the Hudson River and Samuel de Champlain sailed into Lake Champlain from the St. Lawrence. The bicentennial of Robert Fulton’s 1807 steamboat trip from New York City to Albany is also being celebrated.
Neither 1609 explorer actually set foot in Saratoga County, but the event can be used to mark local ties to the Dutch era and other history. County officials are encouraging local events across the county, even in places far from the Hudson River.
“Water is what ties the county together,” said Supervisor Tom Wood, R-Saratoga, chairman of the county committee.
An initial kickoff next April may involve people linking hands across bridges, not just on the Hudson River bridges but in every community.
“Probably every community has a bridge of some significance,” Wood said.
Other tie-ins could be with May as National Bike Month, National Trails Day in June, a trip down the Hudson by kayakers in July, discounted Champlain Canal tours and a visit by the historic schooner “Lois McClure” in August, and promotion of the N’dakkina Native American Festival in September, according to a preliminary outline.
“Explore Saratoga is a way to have participation from the whole county,” said Jennifer Ciulla, the county publications specialist and events coordinator.
Wood said county money may be requested when the 2009 county budget is put together this fall.
The state is encouraging local activities throughout the corridor from New York City to the Canadian border, Bullock said.
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