With its racing track, mineral springs, and battlegrounds, Saratoga has always been rich in history, but a new initiative will allow the county to truly dive into its roots. On Thursday, Saratoga County officials revealed the brand that will work in upcoming years to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War: America’s Turning Point.
The brand name stems from the events of the Battles of Saratoga in which, on October 17, 1777, the British army surrendered to the Patriots. It has been known in history as the “Turning Point of the American Revolution.”
Through marketing and event organization, America’s Turning Point, in the years leading up to 2027, will aim to expand public education about the critical role of Saratoga in the Revolutionary War in order to honor the people, places and events of the Battles of Saratoga.
“I think milestone anniversaries like these allow us to shine a spotlight on local history whereas in other times it kind of plays in the background and it’s not always first and foremost on everyone’s minds,” said Lauren Roberts, the chairperson of America’s Turning Point and the Saratoga County historian.
The brand is backed by a commission made up of several local history experts and community leaders, including Saratoga National Historical Park Superintendent Leslie Morlock, Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Todd Kusnierz and Daughters of the American Revolution Representative Heather Mabee. Many of the members, like Sean Kelleher, Saratoga County History Center vice president and Town of Saratoga historian, are enthusiastic about the new project.
“It’s really exciting,” said Kelleher. “I think it’s a great opportunity to really promote our community, promote our history.”
The commission will be in charge of planning and organizing all of the celebrations, ceremonies, and other events recognizing the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution in Saratoga County. Also on Thursday, the group received $150,000 in seed money from the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors to jumpstart their mission.
“It’s a really big sum of money so I assume that we will be able to use that in the coming years to be able to offer things like programming, maybe training,” said Roberts.
The commission has identified three main goals in its commemoration of the Revolutionary War: “promoting education and appreciation” for Saratoga’s role in the war, “increasing Heritage Tourism” and improving the infrastructure of the county’s historical sites.
To increase public awareness and appreciation, the commission plans to host a variety of future events that will feature informational activities like educational displays and living history demonstrations.
“We do hope to bring in new scholarship; we hope to do lots of living history weekends, encampments, reenactments; partnering with our local stakeholders like the Daughters of the American Revolution, our living history community, the National Park Service,” said Roberts. “There are already quite a few things that we offer here for historic value but we just hope to really expand on that so that not only are our own citizens learning more about what happened in their backyard but we’re also attracting visitors from all over the country and maybe even internationally.”
Some upcoming events include an America’s Turning Point Marquee tent at the Saratoga County Fair from July 19 to July 24, the Turning Point Parade in Schuylerville on Aug. 7, and a Path Through History Weekend on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 at the Schuyler House. These events will not only teach participants about the history of Saratoga but, according to Roberts, apply their newfound knowledge to other parts of life and time.
“We as humans, I think, tend to look back to get a feeling or get an idea of how people handled these situations in the past and I think it’s important for us to be able to do that in our own backyards,” said Roberts.
The project will also seek to increase heritage tourism, which would benefit the county’s economy.
“Heritage tourists have been shown to spend more money than other types of tourists because they’re looking for an authentic experience,” said Roberts. “Not only that but they also tend to visit more sites and here we have sites that already bring tourists in like the track, things like that. This is going to be another added bonus where people will stay longer, there will be more for them to do, and they will be learning about history at the same time.”
Finally, the commission will work to improve the services and infrastructure of the county’s historical sites so as to maintain their quality and their ability to tell the stories of Saratoga history. One way they are hoping to achieve this is through the incorporation of new technology.
“The county is meeting an effort to work with the National Park Service — we have some grants out there — to bring technology in to tell the story of the Battles of Saratoga outside of the national parklands,” said Kelleher. “So that when people come into Schuylerville or they come into the village of Stillwater, they can see what happened there and the interesting stories that happened there using technology — we haven’t been able to do that in the past.”
By doing this, America’s Turning Point will not only be for the history buffs — Kelleher is confident the new technology and historical information that will come in this project will draw in those who, perhaps, weren’t so interested in the past.
“I think it will bring in a non-traditional audience,” said Kelleher. “There’s so many good stories about what happened at the Battles of Saratoga and we’re just starting to find them and dig them out and figure out how to share them with people so I think we are going to appeal to a whole new audience because of that.”
America’s Turning Point is just in the beginning stages of its mission but the Saratoga history it promises to commemorate has been momentous for almost 250 years.
“It’s really important to appreciate the local history and understand how epic it was that the American victory happened here,” said Roberts.