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, Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, invites the community to the 25th Annual Salute to North Country Heritage on Sunday, October 22 from 2:00-4:00 pm at The TAUNY Center. This year’s Salute to North Country Heritage will honor the 2017 North Country Heritage Award Recipients: Loretta Lepkowski of Tug Hill, NY (Evergreen Award Recipient), Bill MacKentley of Potsdam, NY (Inherited Traditions Award Recipient), and The Paddock Arcade in Watertown, NY (Very Special Place Award Recipient). These individuals and the site will be recognized and honored for their contributions to their communities and North Country traditions. This festive celebration is free and open to the public. The Salute will include an awards presentation at 2:30 pm, preceded by live music and followed by a celebratory reception with light refreshments.


Each year, TAUNY’s North Country Heritage Awards recognize individuals, families, and community groups who demonstrate evidence of traditionality, mastery, and creative commitment to their art form over time and a commitment to teaching others, as well as those who support the study and facilitate the passing on of traditions. They also recognize sites in the North Country that are special to the life of those communities over generations, are community gathering places, and are a factor in community or regional identity. The program was established by TAUNY founder and folklorist Varick Chittenden in 1993 and will be celebrating its 25th anniversary starting in 2018 with a series of programs and special events centered around the Heritage Awards and its recipients.


This year’s Salute honors a variety of award recipients recognized for their preservation of North Country traditions and their contributions to the community. This year’s award recipients include the following:


This year’s Evergreen Award, which recognizes individuals, groups, and businesses for their continuing interest in and generous support of traditional cultures, arts and artists, goes to Loretta Lepkowski, local artist from Tug Hill, NY. Loretta is an artist with deep roots in the rugged land of Tug Hill and a folkloristic approach to painting. Her warmth, curiosity, and enthusiasm mean she’s always seeking people with interesting stories and looking for ways to share these stories with others. Besides her interests in local agricultural and woodland heritage, she is especially knowledgeable about the Polish American culture of her own family and of others in the area. Through her painting and project partnerships—including work like her series on family farms and her portraits of long-established Tug Hill residents—she documents not only individual experiences but a way of life and a sense of regional identity. She also shares regional experience through art, nature, and culture-focused workshops for children and families. Loretta is deeply proud of the hardy lifestyle of her community, and she is generous in sharing her knowledge of it. She has contributed endless hours of volunteer time—and hard driving through the Tug Hill snow—to projects for TAUNY and other organizations that present local history and culture to the public.


This year’s Inherited Traditions Award, which is awarded to artists or practitioners who have mastered oral, musical, social, or material expressions that are traditional to their family or community, goes to Bill MacKentley, a dedicated and experienced horticulturist in Potsdam, NY. A native of Mt. Arab, deep in the Adirondacks, Bill MacKentley developed his skills after starting to apprentice with legendary North Country amateur horticulturist Fred Ashworth over 50 years ago. He there learned from Fred’s vast knowledge about trees, especially edible fruit and nut trees that survive in sub-zero climates. After years of working with Fred, Bill and his wife Diana started St. Lawrence Nurseries, where they continued until their recent retirement to find, graft, and seed scores of new and heirloom varieties. Besides supplying hundreds of loyal local customers over the years, they’ve sent thousands of saplings and plants to customers across the country and well beyond. Along the way, Bill’s also collected valuable data about the changing climate and worked to preserve trees that can thrive through such changes. From working with his successor at the nurseries, to mentoring 4-H participants, to developing 100-year plans for propagating threatened tree species, Bill not only continues working in retirement but steadily enacts his commitment to passing on these vital horticultural traditions and the fruit they bear, literally and figuratively, to future generations.


This year’s Very Special Place Award, which recognizes North Country sites that are special to the life of their communities, goes to The Paddock Arcade, in Watertown, NY. Built in 1850 by Watertown native Loveland Paddock, the Paddock Arcade is the oldest continuously operated covered shopping mall in the country. It was built in the Gothic style, topped with a glass roof that allows daylight to filter through. Over the years, shops have generally occupied the bottom floor while the upper floors have been used for office space and residences. Community members treasure memories of the Arcade—from picking up fine women’s goods at Robinson’s to savoring the Karmelkorn shop’s popcorn and pralines. The Arcade is currently home to popular restaurants, a tavern, a martial arts studio, a bicycle shop, a bakery, and other boutique shops and offices. Businesses have changed over the years—these days you might pick up a cannoli instead of Karmelkorn—but at number 1 Public Square, the Arcade still functions as a shopping and business center, remaining the benchmark structure in Watertown’s historic downtown district. It also remains an important community gathering place, with holiday and civic events, a farmer’s market, and the annual Haunted Paddock Arcade bringing new generations through the doors.


For more information about the North Country Heritage Awards and the Salute to North Country Heritage Program visit tauny.org.


The North Country Heritage Award program is made possible by the generous support of The Cloudsplitter Foundation, Corning Incorporated Foundation, and The Sweetgrass Foundation. This program is also made possible by the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


The TAUNY Center is located at 53 Main Street, Downtown Canton, NY. TAUNY, Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people understand and appreciate the folk traditions and local culture of everyday life—present and past—in the North Country. To do so, TAUNY seeks to research and preserve a record of diverse groups, customs and traditions; to recognize and empower traditional arts and artists; to identify and promote regional identity; and to provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn about folklore and culture. More information is available at tauny.org.


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Photos:


TAUNY’s 2017 North Country Heritage Award Recipients: Loretta Lepkowski (Tug Hill, NY), Bill MacKentley (Potsdam, NY) , and The Paddock Arcade (Watertown, NY). Photos of Loretta Lepkowski and Bill MacKentley by Jason Hunter and The Paddock Arcade photo is courtesy of The Watertown Daily Times.



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