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

TAUNY at 25

In 2011, TAUNY celebrated its 25th anniversary. What began with one man's idea and a few interested folks working from a home office in Canton has evolved into a highly regarded nonprofit cultural organization with an enthusiastic staff, an active Board of Directors, and a committed membership. A regional cultural heritage center, located in downtown Canton with programs and activities throughout the northern 14 counties of the state, TAUNY has made great strides in showcasing the folk culture and living traditions of the North Country.

Learn more about

 How TAUNY Came to Be

The timeline, information, and photos that follow
tell the story of all we have to celebrate!

The Center for the Study of North Country Folklife is dissolved and Traditional Arts in Upstate New York--TAUNY--is created as the region’s folk arts organization. Varick Chittenden serves as Executive Director of the independent non-profit organization while maintaining a teaching career at SUNY Canton.

Mike Cousino's "Private Expressions/ Shared Memories" exhibit traveled to the Roberson Center for the Arts and Sciences in Binghamton and to installations at the State University College at Buffalo, the Arts Council for Wyoming County, Southworth Library at SUNY Canton, and the Vermont Folklife Center.

 Genevieve Sutter, Bill Massey, Fred Morgan, and Diana Cooper at the opening of  "Grand Legacy,"
an exhibit organized locally to accompany the traveling version of the Smithsonian exhibit "The Grand Generation."

Bill Smith and Ham Ferry on the cover of "Where'd You Get That Hat?" a CD of stories, tall tales, and poems by celebrated North Country storytellers.



"Private Expressions/Shared Memories," one-man exhibition of the dioramas of Vietnam war experiences created by Michael Cousino of Gouverneur, opens at the New York State Vietnam Memorial gallery in Albany, curated by Varick Chittenden.

"North Country's Grand Legacy," an exhibit of the work of nine elderly North Country folk artists, is installed at the Roland Gibson Gallery at SUNY Potsdam, co-curated by Diana Cooper and Varick Chittenden. 

TAUNY hosts the New York Folklore Society annual meeting in Alexandria Bay, with artist demonstrations, musical presentations, a dinner of local food specialties, and a field trip to the house and garden of Veronica Terrillion, Indian River.

Bill Smith begins an apprenticeship with celebrated Adirondack storyteller Ham Ferry to study the repertoire and performance techniques of local storytelling. This is the first of several apprenticeships with local master traditional artists sponsored by TAUNY.  

Publication of "Speaking of the North Country," a special issue of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association magazine devoted to storytelling traditions and storytellers, edited and written by Robert D. Bethke.


TAUNY is officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with corporate board of directors.


Storytelling and traditional music and dance programs are held at the Crary Mills Community Center

Storytelling at Crary Mills, featuring Ham Ferry, Napolean LaBarge, Margaret LaPorte, Harvey Carr, and Bill Smith.

Folklorist Robert Bethke presents Ham Ferry with a Heritage Award in the first-ever Salute to North Country Legends.

Kitty Carlisle Hart and NYSCA Director Mary Hayes enjoy TAUNY's exhibit, "I Can Remember," in the gallery on West Street.

TAUNY sponsors the first of several Elderhostels at the Edgewood Resort in Alexandria Bay.  Sessions in later years are held in Sackets Harbor and Canton, each featuring courses about various aspects of life in the North Country.

TAUNY selects the first six North Country Heritage Award recipients--decoy carver Bill Massey, folk sculptor Veronica Terrillion, Mohawk elder Ray Fadden, fiddler Alice Clemens, storyteller Ham Ferry, and balsam pillow makers at the Big Moose Community Chapel. The first Salute to North Country Legends takes place at SUNY Canton, with generous underwriting support from The Sweetgrass Foundation. The Salute becomes an annual signature program of TAUNY’s.
  Complete list of heritage award recipients

Jill Breit joins the staff, working 10 hours a week as administrative assistant.
Complete list of TAUNY staff since 1986

 TAUNY's first public gallery at 13 West  Street in Canton opens. The featured exhibit at the grand opening is “I Can Remember . . . Memories and Stories in North  Country Folk Art,”  which includes the folk art of logger artist Carl Martel (right). The exhibit is curated by Varick Chittenden. Regularly changing exhibits become one of TAUNY’s trademarks.    

Broadway actress and long-time Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts Kitty Carlisle Hart visits the TAUNY Gallery with other NYSCA members.

North Country Folkstore opens with one tabletop of birdhouses, Mohawk baskets, and woodcarvings to sell. 

TAUNY staff initiate a program schedule of lectures, demonstrations, and workshops. Mohawk elder Jake Swamp (right) is an early presenter, reading and signing copies of his children's book Giving Thanks.
“Home Cooking: The Folk Art of Good Food,” the first of many collaborations to present TAUNY’s research on North Country culture, airs on North Country Public Radio.

Curator Varick Chittenden with his wife and charter Board member Judy Chittenden at the opening of "Out of the Ordinary" in Albany. The exhibit later traveled to four other major museums in the state before retiring. 

First annual Pea Soup and Johnnycake lunch is held during Canton’s Winterfest.This becomes a favorite annual event for many visitors.
"Out of the Ordinary," a major traveling exhibition of contemporary folk art curated by Varick Chittenden opens at the Albany Institute of History and Art. 

The Morgan Family of Norwood donates a collection of work by the late Fred Morgan, including his famed tuba mailbox. This is an important donation to TAUNY’s small teaching collection.  

Programming expands beyond Canton; "Take 5" traveling exhibits and related programs tour more than two dozen venues in the North Country. One "Take 5" exhibit, Adirondack Woodcrafts: Continuing Traditions, features a chainsaw carved bear (right) by Bill Marolf of Beaver Falls.

The Board of Directors establishes the Evergreen Award to recognize exceptional interest in and support of traditional cultures, arts, and artists of the North Country.

Merry TubaChristmas honored Fred Morgan's tubamail box, which was donated to TAUNY as part of the Morgan collection.

Early Folkstore at the 2 West Main Street location.

 Good Food, Served Right takes first place in the national Tabasco Community Cookbook Competition, bringing a cash prize and place in the Tabasco cookbook library on Avery Island.
NYSCA designates TAUNY a Primary Organization for Support.
About 25 players played holiday tunes to a full house "Merry TubaChristmas" at Canton’s American Theater.

TAUNY moves operations to a new gallery, located at 2 West Main Street on an island on the Grasse River in Canton.

Spearheaded by Board member Paul Fischer and his wife Joann Pfeil, TAUNY hosts the first Black Fly Fiddle Festival on the campus of SUNY Canton.  Jay Unger and Molly Mason perform in Hosmer Hall as part of a TAUNY  festival (left).

Folklorists Dr. Robert Bethke and Dr. Richard Lunt both donate their North Country fieldwork archives to TAUNY. These gifts substantially increase the scope of TAUNY’s archival collection.

TAUNY produces “Where’d you Get That Hat?” a CD of selected stories and recited poems by Ham Ferry, well-known Adirondack innkeeper and tall-tale teller, from the TAUNY Archives.

Publication of Good Food, Served Right, a collection of essays and recipes about regional food edited by folklorist Lynn Case Ekfelt.


Kitty Carlisle Hart and Martha Stewart present
the Governor's Arts Award to TAUNY.
A busload of friends and supporters (below) traveled to New York City where
 Varick Chittenden accepted the award

TAUNY receives the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, a prestigious recognition of cultural importance to the state.  


Good Food, Served Right
is featured in Ladies Home Journal.


The Canton Chamber of Commerce selects TAUNY as Member of the Year.

A crew from Better Homes and Gardens special publications division comes to Canton to produce a story on Good Food, Served Right. Two recipes from the cookbook--Gladys Mosier’s Raisin Nut Pie and Celeste Sweet’s Peach Marmalade--are selected for inclusion in the anthology “America’s Best Recipes.”
Working with Cybertrail Outfitters, TAUNY launches two websites--TAUNY and North Country Folklore Online.  Dale Hobson helps create an interactive Meet the Masters module (right).

Edith Cutting of Westport donates her research collection of Champlain Valley folklore to TAUNY.

The exhibit "Very Special Places: A Sneak Preview" opens, leading to the launch of the Register of Very Special Places, one of TAUNY’s signature programs.

The 10th anniversary of the Salute to North Country Legends is celebrated with the release of the publication Legends of Our Time: Masters of North Country Traditional Life. 

"Common Places" conference participants took a bus trip to sites designated by TAUNY as the North Country’s "very special places," including the Crystal Restaurant in Watertown.

NPR's Nick Spitzer swaps tales with St. Lawrence River native Dick Garlock at the concert at the Clayton Opera House.

Varick Chittenden, Allan Newell, Jill Breit, and TAUNY attorney Andy Silver at the closing on 53 Main Street.

TAUNY hosts the first Sugar & Spice gingerbread contest and display, which becomes an annual favorite.


TAUNY organizes and hosts “Common Places, Uncommon Stories,” the annual meeting of the New York Folklore Society, in Sackets Harbor.

Nick Spitzer, folklorist and producer of the nationally distributed “American Routes” radio series, comes to Canton to host an evening of traditional music for TAUNY at the Clayton Opera House. 
Public school teachers from the region participate in TAUNY’s Local Learning/North Country Summer Institute.
Jill Breit returns from a two-year leave of absence to complete a master's degree in Folk Studies at Western Kentucky University; she is appointed Program Director. 
TAUNY celebrates its 20th anniversary with a birthday bash at the Lazy River Playground in Hermon (right). More than 100 people attend for a pig roast, miniature golf, and an evening of dancing. 
WPBS public television in Watertown develops a series of programs on TAUNY’s RVSP sites, narrated by Varick Chittenden.

Jill Breit is named TAUNY’s Executive Director; Varick Chittenden becomes The TAUNY Center Project Director.
In February, TAUNY’s Board of Directors votes to purchase the former J.J. Newberry building at 53 Main Street in Canton. In June, the organization moves into the building. Community support through Early Bird Campaign underwrites the move and first-year expenses of the purchase.    
With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, TAUNY acquires colorful tents and hits the road with demonstrating artists for a tour of fairs and festivals across the region, including the Cream Cheese Festival in Lowville (right).

TAUNY celebrates the launch of a new  website, “W is for the Woods”: Traditional Adirondack Music & Music Making, with a weekend of activities that includes a music jam, a panel discussion with scholars and musicians, and a concert at the Edwards Opera House. 

Evergreen Campaign Co-Chairs Joseph and Dine Kennedy launch the building campaign at the annual member reception.

Official launch of Evergreen Campaign  at annual member reception, with a goal of $1.25 million to create The TAUNY Canter.

TAUNY hires staff folklorist Hannah Harvester, who earned a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill’s Folklore and American Studies Department.
After months of planning, in October construction begins on Phase I of renovations.   
TAUNY produces "Home of Our Hearts, Fraser Family and Friends," a musical CD of favorites from this 2005 North Country Heritage Award recipient, and celebrates with a release concert at the Edwards Opera House.

 Over the last 25 years, the vision for TAUNY has changed very little. We are still devoted to identifying interesting local traditions and the people who practice them and to recording and preserving the record for future generations. We remain committed to interpreting the results of our studies based on scholarly research of those traditions and making them accessible to the general public of all ages. And, as TAUNY activity has shown dramatically in recent years, we remain dedicated to presenting regional traditions and artists in a variety of ways to audiences of all kinds. We want to appeal to natives and transplants, seasonal residents, scholars, students, and tourists. We continue to explore the idea of regional identity for the North Country, to seek the diversity of cultures in a place sometimes mistakenly believed to be homogeneous, and to create a better understanding and appreciation for the ordinary things of everyday life that make us who we are.  

What may have started out as one person’s idea has developed into an invaluable cultural organization. The Board of Directors is as committed today as it was at the beginning; the exceptional staff brings professionalism and excitement to TAUNY every day.  And we have acquired an exciting new home in The TAUNY Center, where we can work and others can visit and learn about life in the North Country.  What better way to say that we are here to stay and to keep the vision alive for a very long time to come? 

TAUNY's 25th anniversary programs and activities are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties.

Note: All images, text and other material found in this website © 2015 TAUNY. All rights reserved.