The Heartland Passage Tour brings songs, stories and film to commemorate the Erie Canal Bicentennial

Party Like it’s 1817

NEW YORK, NY (JULY 5, 2017) – A bicentennial party is floating its way to ports of call along the Erie Canal from the Brooklyn Waterfront to the Buffalo Waterfront on Lake Erie. (*See below for Orleans County performance).

From September 2 through September 23*, the Heartland Passage Tour will bring troubadours, tugboat crew members and other storytellers – plus award-winning musicians and an Academy Award winning filmmaker – to ten cities and towns connected to the Erie Canal. The Tour will mark the start of the Canal in 1817 – which made New York America’s global city and helped create the cities of Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Utica.  The Tour celebrates and helps preserve the culture and way of life the Canal engendered – and that has become endangered and revived – as it continues to shape the lives of New Yorkers.

At each stop (view complete schedule), singers and storytellers will perform, either at dockside or in selected historic venues including a canal cruiseboat and the Barge Museum in Brooklyn. Performers include Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, famous for “Ashokan Farewell,” the theme song for Ken Burns’ Civil War series; Kimball, Canning, Bolt and McClure performing the music of traveling troupes along the Canal in its heyday; Erie Canal songsters George Ward, The Dady Brothers & Kit Fallon, and Dave Ruch; and tugboat captain Steve Wunder. Each event will include a screening of Boom and Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal, a short documentary by Academy Award winning independent filmmaker Paul Wagner, a meditation on the economic cycles along the canal that speak to the fate of the American dream. As historian Wendy Wall sums it up, “The story of the Erie Canal really reflects the story of the nation. If you think about the early 19th century, the story of the Erie Canal is one of nation building, the industrialization of America and the opening of the west. If you look at the 20th century, the story of the Erie Canal becomes one of de-industrialization.  Yet it’s still a hopeful story – because if you look at what’s happening to the canal, in cities and towns all along its route it’s now an engine for tourism and economic development. So it’s really a story of America re-inventing itself.”

“Although it was called “Clinton’s Folly,” the Erie Canal was an engineering miracle,” said folklorist and Project Codirector Karen Canning. “By linking the port of New York to the Great Lakes and the Midwest, it made fortunes in its wake. The Heartland Passage Tour celebrates the Canal and the folklore it spawned in song and story.”

“The cultural impact of the Canal was huge,” said Steve Zeitlin, director of City Lore. “Low Bridge, Everybody Down!  (the Erie Canal Song)”, most recently performed by Bruce Springsteen, was one of dozens of songs inspired by the Canal. The songs of Stephen Foster are part of the Canal’s history.  Even George M. Cohan wrote a song about the Canal.

About The Heartland Passage Tour: The Heartland Passage tour is a unique new performance event that will travel on the Erie Canal September 2 – 23* to celebrate its bicentennial and demonstrate its cultural and historic impact through songs, stories and the documentary film Boom and Bust.  The tour is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and a Regional Economic Development Grant through the New York State Council on the Arts. The Tour is sponsored by City Lore (, the Erie Canal Museum ( and Livingston Arts ( For more information and tickets see

About the Sponsors: Founded in 1986, City Lore’s mission is to foster New York City – and America’s – living cultural heritage through education and public programs.  The Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse provides engaging educational experiences that champion an appreciation and understanding of the Erie Canal.  The mission of Livingston Arts is to enrich the quality of life in Livingston County and Western New York by encouraging and promoting the arts and cultural activities.

See Full Schedule at:


*The Heartland Passage Tour will be in Medina, NY on Thursday, September 14th at the Erie Canal Basin, Manilla Place. This will include Gretchen Sepik as Surly Sal, cook on the Erie Canal, The Dady Brothers & Kit Fallon, Dave Ruch and the showing of the film: Boom & Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal. Rain Location: Medina Theatre, 603 Main St. Medina NY.


2017 Schedule of Events

2017 OC Heritage Fest Program Cover

Click to download 2017 Program [PDF]

Festival Kick-Off Party
Fri., Sept. 8: 6 PM-9 PM
Forrestel Farms
11380 Main St (Shelby Ctr) off South Gravel Rd., Medina
Tour historic Forrestel Farms and celebrate our local heritage with a barn dance featuring live music by City Fiddle. Bad Ash BBQ Food Truck, craft beverages available on site.
Free Admission • Food & Beverage $ • Restrooms • Wear comfortable footwear for tour of grounds.

Ancestors, Legends & Lore
Sat., Sept. 9: 9 AM-2 PM
GCC Albion Campus Center
456 West Ave, Albion
Victorian Spiritualism: lecture, display, and a parlor seance.
Genealogy Workshop (See description below)
Free Admission:: Restrooms

WWII Victory Garden
Sat., Sept. 9: 9 AM-3 PM Guided Tour (Self-guided tour throughout week)
Cornell Cooperative Ext./4H Fairgrounds
12690 Route 31, Albion
Join Master Gardeners for a WWII Victory Garden similar to those utilized by US civilians during WWII. They will grow varieties common during that era and hand out copies of authentic Cornell Cooperative Extension 1942 informational Victory Garden leaflets. Plant Sale too!
Free Admission :: Restrooms

Cobblestone Society & Museum
Sat., Sept. 9 & 16: 11 AM-5 PM
Sun., Sept. 10 & 17: 1 PM-5 PM
Wed-Fri: 11 AM-5 PM: Tours available
14389 Ridge Rd., Albion (Childs)
Join us for a great family experience including guided museum tour, scavenger hunt and “make your own Cobblestone building model.” Hands-on fun for all ages!
Admission: Free for members, kids 12 and under with accompanying adult, and Active Military with ID • Restrooms

Medina Historical Society
Sat., Sept. 9: 11 AM-4 PM
Sat., Sept. 16: 11 AM-4 PM
406 West Ave., Medina
Unique local heritage items, WWI display featuring Company F
Free Admission :: Restrooms

Daughters of the American Revolution
Sat., Sept. 9: 1 PM-5 PM
Sat., Sept. 16: 10 AM-4 PM
249 N. Main St., Albion
Guided tours of Patriots House, exhibit of historic military memorabilia, patriots from the American Revolutionary War; Video on the DAR
Free Admission :: Restrooms

WWI Veterans of Orleans
Sun., Sept. 10: 7 PM-8:30 PM
Hoag Library
134 South Main St.,  Albion
Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard will discuss the service of Orleans County residents during WWI. At 8 PM, Company F Memorial Creative Director Lynne Menz and Sculptor Brian Porter will provide an update on the progress on the Company F bronze statue. Free Admission • Restrooms

9-11 Heroes Memorial Service
Mon., Sept. 11: 10 AM
Elks Lodge, 428 West State St., Albion
Join local dignitaries and veterans for a memorial service to honor the Heroes of 9-11.

Heroes Candlelight Vigil
Mon., Sept. 11: 6 PM
Courthouse Square, S. Main St., Albion
Join local fire departments, rescue squads and law enforcement at the 9-11 Memorial Stone for a candlelight vigil in memory of both local and 9-11 heroes.

Hart House Hotel
Tues., Sept. 12: 7 PM-9 PM
113 West Center St., Medina
Guided Ghost Tours of Hart House Hotel and the former Newell Shirt Factory, led by Chris Busch
Free Admission

Maplewood Cemetery
Wed., Sept. 13: 7 PM-8 PM
Route 237, South of Clarendon
Guided walking tour led by GCC history professor Derek Maxfield. One of the oldest cemeteries in Orleans County, Maplewood Cemetery is the resting place of some of the area’s earliest pioneers. Two Revolutionary War soldiers are buried here as well as Thomas McManners, an escaped slave who fought for the Continental Army and was said to be a servant to Gen. George Washington during the Revolution.
Free Admission

Hurd Orchards Luncheon & Tour
Thurs., Sept. 14 • Luncheon: 12:30-2 PM • Siphon Tour: 5 PM – 6 PM
17260 Ridge Rd., Holley
Experience an Erie Canal Boat luncheon, the Canalboat Kitchen featuring early 19th century fare for lunch, sharing artifacts and story telling that brings the canal to life. They will also share the vital role that the canal plays in modern agriculture. Weather permitting, they will lead a tour to their siphon on the Erie Canal to show how the waterways supply agricultural needs.
Luncheon: $31.75 + tax. Call for Reservations: 585-638-8838
Siphon Tour: 4 PM-5 PM Free Admission

Heartland Passage Tour
Thurs., Sept. 14: 5 PM-9 PM
Erie Canal Basin, Medina (Rain location: Medina Theatre, 603 Main St.)
5:00-8:00 PM: Medina Lions Club food stand-come down early for dinner!
6:00-6:45 PM: Meet Surly Sal, an Erie Canal cook, performed by Gretchen Murray Sepik
6:45-8:00 PM: Canal music by The Dady Brothers & Kit Fallon, Dave Ruch, and stories with guest, Dave Gower, canal engineer. (See performers’ profiles)
8:00-8:30 PM: Erie Canal Film, “Boom and Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal,” a new documentary tracing the cultural riches of the canal through its industrial rise and decline, and rebirth as a tourist & recreational gem.
Free Admission • Food & Beverages $ • Restrooms. (View Press Release>>>)
The Heartland Passage Tour is made possible by:

nea-logo-A     NYSCA Logo

WWI Era Music Concert
Fri., Sept 15: 1 PM-2:30 PM
Stroyan Auditorium, Lyndonville High School
25 Housel Ave, Lyndonville
The Elementary Summer Honors Band (Albion, Medina & Lyndonville) and choral groups will present a concert with music from the World War I era. Exhibits will be available for review featuring clothing from the era and presentations will be shown between musical selections.  Courtesy of the Lyndonville Area Foundation.
Free Admission :: Restrooms

Mount Albion Walking Tour
Fri., Sept. 15: 6 PM & 7 PM
14925 Telegraph Rd. (Route 31), Albion
Join Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard at the historic Mt. Albion Cemetery for two 50 minute walking tours.  Each tour will feature different individuals, so folks from the first tour might choose to stay on for the second.  Tours begin from the cemetery chapel. Free Admission.

Epochs in Orleans 
Sat., Sept. 16: 9 AM-4 PM
GCC Medina Campus Center
11470 Maple Ridge Rd., Medina
Come enjoy informative lectures, view special exhibits, and meet historical personas like Abraham Lincoln or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Enjoy a concert featuring teaching artist Dave Ruch who will perform “The War of 1812: Songs and Stories from NY and Beyond” at 1 PM.
Food & Beverages $ • Free Admission • Restrooms

Genealogy Workshops
Sat., Sept. 9: 9 AM-2 PM @ GCC Albion, 456 West Ave, Albion
Sat., Sept. 16: 9 AM-4 PM @ GCC Medina, 11470 Maple Ridge Rd., Medina
Members of the Orleans County Genealogical Society will be on hand to help individuals with their genealogical research. Researchers at all levels are welcome. Handouts will be available for those researching the WWI service of their ancestor. Researchers need not be residents of Orleans County.
Free Admission :: Restrooms

Sandstone Society Hall of Fame
Sat., Sept. 16: 9 AM-Noon
City Hall, 600 Main St., Medina
Guided tours of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame and visit inductees in Orleans County (self guided). View an exhibit of original masonry tools used to build several sandstone structures in our region at 529 Main Street. Free Admission

Carl Akeley Fox “Welcome Home” Reception at the Cobblestone Museum
Sat., Sept. 16: 5 PM
14389 Ridge Rd., Albion (Childs)
The Clarendon Historical Society will host a reception featuring the newly restored Carl Akeley fox at the 1834 Cobblestone Church at the Cobblestone Museum Complex.

The Cobblestone Society is pleased to “welcome home” its restored red fox mounted by Carl Akeley. A native of Clarendon, New York, Akeley established himself as one of the most influential taxidermists in the history of the United States. His major works exist in museums throughout the country including the Akeley Hall of African Mammals in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The red fox was mounted by Akeley at the age of 16 and was procured for him by Francis Harling of Albion. The mounted fox diorama represents one of Akeley’s earliest works still existing in Orleans County. This amazing diorama was donated to the museum in 1979 by John Seager, great-grandson of  Francis Harling, in memory of his parents Agnes Harling Seager and John Seager.  The Museum worked with taxidermist and conservator George Dante of Wildlife Preservations in New Jersey alongside two conservators from the American Museum of Natural History to have the piece fully restored to its original beauty.

Call for Participation for Orleans County Second Annual Heritage Festival

Priceless Historic Places, Organizations and Assets in the Spotlight Sept. 8-17, 2017

Medina, NY– With a fresh focus on new themes, the Second Annual Orleans County Heritage Festival will once again celebrate some of the region’s invaluable historic places, organizations and assets beginning Friday, September 8, 2017, and ending Sunday, September 17, 2017. Last year’s county-wide celebration of historically and culturally significant locations was a complete success and involved 29 sites including special programming at GCC’s Albion and Medina campus centers.

“We were very pleased with the results of the first heritage festival. Over 500 visitors collected ribbons and a commemorative button as they deepened their appreciation of our region’s historic cemeteries, farms, homes and other gems like the Erie Canal,” Derek Maxfield, GCC associate professor of history and a festival organizer said. “This year we hope to increase awareness of Orleans County heritage by introducing intriguing new historical themes.”

The new themes for this year include the following:

  • Erie Canal – locations associated with the historic Erie Canal to celebrate the bicentennial of this extraordinary 19th century transportation system;
  • Military – locations associated with the military history of Orleans County ranging from the French and Indian Wars through 20th Century Wars with special emphasis on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I;
  • Cobblestone & Sandstone – locations associated with the substantial use of cobblestone and/or sandstone in the historic architecture;
  • Legends and Lore, Spirits and Supernatural – locations associated with a history of spirits, supernatural and/or ghost activities.

Lynne Menz, the Orleans County Tourism Marketing Manager, is excited about what the expansion of time will mean for visitors. “In addition to being very pleased with the events and programs held in each location last year, almost all visitors wished they could have made it to more locations during the 3-day weekend,” Menz said. “This new 10-day format will allow people to experience a much wider range of events without having to force people to choose between events held at the same time but in different locations.”

Another first for this year is that the heritage festival is being organized by a board of directors.  “We had great cooperation from many community volunteers as well as GCC faculty, staff and students for the first heritage festival,” Jim Simon, GCC associate dean said. “But we realized that a more organized leadership structure would allow for the festival to provide even more to the community.”

The Board of Directors includes Derek Maxfield, Lynne Menz, Tracy Ford, Matt Ballard, Erin Anheier, Al Capurso, Cindy Robinson and Jim Simon.

CALL for Application: Any locations or presenters interested in participating in the Second Annual Orleans County Heritage Festival should submit an application to Jim Simon, GCC Medina Campus Center, 11470 Maple Ridge Rd, Medina, NY 14103. Application forms can be found at the Heritage Festival website at  Applications are due by March 20, 2017.

For more information please contact Jim Simon, associate dean of GCC’s Orleans County Campus Centers at (585)798-1688, ext. 4191, or Donna Rae Sutherland, associate director of Marketing Communications at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or

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