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Town of Ellicottville Bicentennial events begin in March

By Deb Everts

Plans for the Town of Ellicottville Bicentennial celebration are on track for the events of 2020. In preparation, the planning committee has met every month throughout the past year and started the new year off with a meeting Jan. 7.

Organizer Dawn Westfall said there are three main events scheduled for the Bicentennial Celebration — Winter Carnival in March, the Town of Ellicottville’s Birthday Party in April and Old Home Week in July.

Westfall said Holiday Valley’s Winter Carnival, March 14-15, is going to be part of the kick-off celebration and the first bicentennial event of the year. It will include the annual Mardi Gras Parade in the village on Saturday evening featuring floats with a historical theme. On Sunday, the popular costume parade will take place on the slopes of Holiday Valley, along with other weekend activities. 

“On Saturday and Sunday, there will be a reception from noon to 3 p.m. at the Main Lodge,” she said. “We’ll have Heritage Town Photos and Ski Heritage Photos on display, along with some historical pieces and storyboards from the museum. We’re also hoping to have a short video of the museum for people to see.” 

Westfall and Town Historian Mary Elizabeth Dunbar will be presenting about the history of the town, both days. Edna Northrup, Ellicottville’s well-known adventurer, skier and author of “For the Love of Skiing” will be talking about her memories of the early days of skiing in Ellicottville around 1:30 p.m.

Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase a unique bottle of commemorative bicentennial whiskey at the event. Made exclusively for the town’s 200th birthday by local distiller Bryan Scharf and his crew at the Ellicottville Distillery, the rye whiskey will have a special commemorative label inspired by an old whiskey bottle owned by the Dineen family in Ellicottville. 

Woodcarver Keith McKale of Fern Wood Art will also be at the reception offering some bicentennial commemorative carving pieces for purchase, with the proceeds going towards the bicentennial. 

THE TOWN’S 200th birthday party will take place April 13 at 4 p.m. when Pioneer Certificates will be presented at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The event is open to the public and will probably continue through 6 or 6:30 p.m., so people are invited to stop in and wish the town a happy birthday. Refreshments will be provided by Cupcaked.

“We’re also having some speakers,” Westfall said. “Crystal Abers, director of the county Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism, will be speaking. We’ll also have a guest appearance from the town’s founder, Joseph Ellicott who passed away in 1826, not long after the town’s original birthday in 1820.”

Applications for a Pioneer Certificate are available on the Ellicottville Historical Society’s Facebook page. The deadline to apply is Feb. 13, 2020.

Of special interest is a Commemorative Postal Cancellation Stamp designed by renowned local artist Barbara Fox. Westfall said the artwork has been approved and any mail that goes through Ellicottville on Monday, April 13, will get this special cancellation stamp. She said it will be a one-of-a-kind, which is a big thing in stamp collection circles.

Old Home Weekend is solidly set for July 17-19, which will coincide with Ellicottville Central School’s annual Alumni Weekend. A street dance is still in the works for Friday night downtown, after the Stroll the Streets event. Westfall said the dance will coordinate with the 1800s-themed Stroll that is planned this year, so people are encouraged to wear period costumes.

“Street dances were a tradition at some of the former Old Home Weekends,” she said. “We thought a dance on Friday night would be great because people will be coming in for the Saturday alumni event.” 

A parade is being planned for Saturday morning in the village. Westfall said it will start near the Town Center, located at 28 Parkside Drive, at 10 a.m. She said St. Paul’s is going to sponsor a carnival and have activities for kids that day. The committee is also thinking about having a family-oriented activity on Sunday to end the weekend.

Westfall said a barbecue or some other food event that weekend is still in the works. She said the committee is discussing options because people are always looking for food at events.

Another Saturday event is Mark Dunkelman’s 154th Civil War Reunion at the Town Center from 1 to 4 p.m. 

As a tribute to 200 years of history in the town of Ellicottville, a 14-month historical calendar has been created. The cost is $15 with all proceeds funding the 2020 Bicentennial celebrations and the Ellicottville Historical Society and Museum. The calendars are available at a number of retail establishments throughout the town and village. They can also be ordered on the Ellicottville Historical Society’s Facebook page where there’s an option to choose if somebody wants a calendar mailed.

The committee is still seeking sponsorship and tax-deductible donations that are managed in a Bicentennial Fund set up with the Cattaraugus Community Foundation. Westfall said the funds they raise will go toward the bicentennial events they’re planning for the year.

The next planning meeting will be held Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Memorial Library of Ellicottville, 6499 Maples Road. For updated information, questions or to volunteer, contact Westfall at 699-6201 or daylight398@gmail.com. Also, visit the Ellicottville Historical Society’s Facebook page.

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