Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289

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TAUNY's 2015 North Country Heritage Award recipients are Congregation Beth El Food Festival, Potsdam; John Scarlett, blacksmith, 1000 Islands; folklorist Lynn Case Ekfelt, Canton; and the Lowville Fish and Game Club.

Join us at the Salute to North Country Heritage on Sunday, October 18 from 2:00-4:00 in the afternoon at The TAUNY Center to celebrate and learn about these individuals and groups, and their contribution to North Country heritage!


Since 1993, TAUNY has presented North Country Heritage Awards to more than 70 individuals, families, and community groups who demonstrate evidence of traditionality, mastery, and creative commitment to their art form over time, and a commitment to their community and the teaching of others. The program was established by TAUNY founder and folklorist Varick Chittenden in order to recognize the many people whose dedication to tradition-based skills and knowledge quietly conserve the cultural fabric of our region. Recipients are honored at the annual public Salute to North Country Heritage, which will take place this year on Sunday, October 18th, at The TAUNY Center in Downtown Canton from 2:00-4:00pm. Recipients are also featured in a permanent exhibition at The TAUNY Center.


In 2014, following a year of strategic review, TAUNY recommitted to and expanded the North Country Heritage Awards. Beginning this year, awards will be given in four categories, in recognition of the many ways cultural conservation occurs. This change integrates into the program the Register of Very Special Places, a cultural landmark recognition program established in 2002, as well as the Evergreen Award, established in 1997 to honor commitments to supporting and increasing public understanding and appreciation of traditional arts and cultures. In addition to updating the categories of consideration, the expanded North Country Heritage Awards Program will include year-round programs featuring current and past recipients in order to give the public more opportunities to learn from and about recipients.


This year, recipients will be honored in each of the four Heritage Award categories. The “Inherited Traditions” award will be presented to the Potsdam Congregation Beth El Food Festival. The Food Festival, established in the late 1970s as a fundraiser for Congregation Beth El, has been bringing people together over the last three decades to make, celebrate, and enjoy Jewish traditional foods. The festival regularly features a range of family specialties—including blintzes, latkes, falafel, soups, hummus, and more, prepared by Beth El members—as well as breads and pastries from a kosher bakery in Montreal. The award honors the ways in which this festival celebrates traditional Jewish foodways, both featuring family and community food traditions that have been handed down through generations, and sharing those traditions with the broader community in a way that helps to carry them forward.


While the Heritage Awards have long celebrated individuals and groups carrying on traditions they were born into, the new “Adopted Traditions” category honors those who have demonstrated mastery of and commitment to regional traditions that they have taken up, and been taken into, later in life, often through more formal study. This award will be presented this year to blacksmith John Scarlett of Rossie, NY. Scarlett took his first blacksmithing class in his late thirties and is now celebrating mre than thirty years as sole proprietor of Little Tree Forge. He began by forging high quality American colonial reproductions and went on to demonstrate preindustrial blacksmithing techniques at the Adirondack Museum for twenty years.


In recent years, he has focused on creating one-of-a-kind pieces, mostly for clients living within fifty miles of his shop in Rossie, that reflect the natural flora, fauna, and architecture of the sites he works with. Scarlett has also long enjoyed sharing this traditional art with others by teaching beginners and educating the public about the beauty and nature of hammer-worked iron.


The 2015 “Evergreen” award will be presented to Lynn Case Ekfelt for her commitment to studying, participating in, and educating the community about North Country foodways and other regional traditions. In the midst of a twenty-eight year career as a librarian at St. Lawrence University, Ekfelt earned a second Masters Degree in Folklore in 1977. Since then, she has done extensive work documenting North Country traditions, independently and in collaboration with TAUNY. Her work with TAUNY includes editing and authoring Good Food Served Right, the national award-winning community cookbook featuring a variety of North Country food traditions, as well as coordinating volunteer food-related programs for years. She also contributed a regular column to “VOICES: The Journal of New York Folklore,” sharing her experiences traveling around the North Country to document (and sample!) regional food cultures. Ekfelt is also known for being an experienced and accomplished cook herself.


The 2015 “Very Special Place” award will be presented to the Lowville Fish and Game Club. The Club, which has been active since the 1920s and now has mre than 200 members, is part of the long history of North Country sportsmen’s clubs serving as places for members to socialize and take part in a variety of sports related to shooting, hunting, and fishing for native species. The Lowville Fish and Game Club facilities include an archery range, pistol range, and trap range as well as spaces that regularly host large functions such as wedding receptions, school reunions, and barn dances with local bands like the Adirondack Playboys. The award honors the Club’s commitment to being a place of skill-sharing and celebration of North Country traditions of the woods and waterways.


Join us at the Salute to North Country Heritage on Sunday, October 18 from 2:00-4:00 in the afternoon at The TAUNY Center to celebrate and learn about these individuals and groups, and their contribution to North Country heritage!


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