Neither Henry Hudson nor Samuel de Champlain set foot in the area that would become Saratoga County during their separate 1609 explorations of the region, but that hasn’t kept the county from celebrating their legacies in this anniversary year.
The quadricentennial of upstate New York’s European exploration has meant the “quadri-sizing” of many regular community events, with county funding to make them bigger.
“I think personally one of the keys to success is that by funneling money back to local communities, they can determine what they want to do. I really like that concept,” said Saratoga Town Supervisor Tom Wood, chairman of the county’s Celebrate 400 Committee.
Many of the events are coming up in the next few weeks, along with two of the county’s signature local history commemorations.
Hudson’s voyage up the Hudson River stopped when he reached what were then rapids at Troy, though it’s possible foot exploration came as far as Waterford; de Champlain, exploring from Canada, reached and spent several weeks on Lake Champlain.
But with celebrations planned throughout eastern New York, Saratoga County nevertheless received $45,000 from the state Quadricentennial Commission. The county is using the money to provide up to $1,000 each to fund local community activities. The county is also spending $17,000 of its own money.
The two biggest county-sponsored events are about to happen.
During the Saratoga County Fair, which opens Tuesday in Ballston Spa, the county will celebrate 400 years of transportation history in its exhibit — highlighted by the display of a newly restored railroad caboose. The fair will run through next Sunday at the fairgrounds on Prospect Street, and is expected to attract around 80,000 visitors.
Each community in the county will be represented by a history display panel inside the large tent that holds the county’s exhibits, Wood said.
“The fair is probably our biggest exposure.”
Transportation is an appropriate theme for the exhibit, county officials said, because the state celebration is also commemorating Robert Fulton’s first steamboat trip between New York City and Albany in 1807. River transportation and railroads have both played big parts in Saratoga County’s industrial history, and construction of the Northway was another turning point.
The county is also supporting a kayak trip on the Hudson to mark the quadricentennial. The county, with the town of Saratoga and village of Schuylerville, will be hosting about 30 kayakers Aug. 3-4, as they begin a 15-day trip to New York harbor.
“We have done the Great Hudson Paddle for the last eight years, but this year we decided to quadri-size it and extend it into Saratoga County,” said Scott Keller of the state Hudson Greenway Commission, who will be one of the kayak guides.
The kayakers include people from Quebec and as far away as California. Local kayakers are welcome to join the trip, even if only for an hour or two.
“We’re trying to show off our communities to the people visiting us,” Keller said.
The kayakers will visit historic and scenic locations along their route. After launching in Moreau on Aug. 2, they will paddle to Schuylerville, where a major festival is planned in Fort Hardy Park. There will be a free community dinner for those participating.
The group will subsequently camp at Stillwater and at Peebles Island in Waterford, making for three nights in the county.
“We spend more time in Saratoga County than we do in any other county,” Keller said.
The various community celebrations around the county are benefiting from up to $1,000 in funding the county is passing along from the state.
mid-summer and on
Some events have already been held, while others aren’t until September — but several are happening in the mid-summer months when the area has more visitors.
Edinburg, with many seasonal residents along the Great Sacandaga Lake, will hold its eighth annual Historic Edinburg Day on July 18, starting at 10 a.m. The town of Day has a Day in the Park celebration that same day.
There will be a Quadricentennial Folk Celebration sponsored by the town of Clifton Park at noon Sunday, Aug. 2, at Clifton Commons. The day will feature a series of concerts, headlined by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason.
Waterford is planning a series of events for the week of July 31 to Aug 8, culminating in Waterford Heritage Day and Old Fashioned Firemen’s Muster on Saturday, Aug. 8. The New England States Veterans’ Firemen’s League will hold a muster competition that day.
Mechanicville will hold a series of quadricentennial events at the city dock the weekend of Aug. 22-23.
In Saratoga Springs, the Tang Museum at Skidmore College will open an exhibit, “Lives of the Hudson,” which opens July 18 and will run through March 14, 2010.
The town of Saratoga and villages of Schuylerville and Victory will hold a “history week” Aug. 2-9. The week starts with the Turning Point Parade on Aug. 2, and emphasizes the region’s role in the American Revolution as the site of some major events in the Battles of Saratoga.
The annual Town of Milton Day in Milton will include a picnic and other activities, with quadricentennial information also included.
Also on Aug. 8 will be the town of Moreau and village of South Glens Falls Fun Days, with exhibits including life in 1609 for Native Americans, children and frontiersmen.
The town and village of Corinth together will hold a quadricentennial celebration on Aug. 29, including races and activities on and along the banks of the Hudson River.
Also on Aug. 29, the Hudson Crossing Park Festival will be held at that park in Northumberland, just north of Schuylerville at Champlain Canal Lock 5.
In the fall, the county is contributing funding toward the Saratoga Native American Festival, to be held Oct. 3-4 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs. Malta and Charlton have community days in September.
Details on many of the events are available in a brochure the county has published, available at public locations or at www.saratogacountyny.gov.