The Salute to North Country Legends recognizes the recipients of the annual North Country Heritage Awards with an audiovisual profile of each recipient, musical entertainment, and the awards presentation. This year's presentation honors:
Leon W. Boyea, Traditional Dance Fiddler, Burke, Franklin County
A retired farmer, Leon Boyea started playing fiddle at the age of eight and played for his first dance when he was ten. In high school he played with the Future Farmers of America Hillbillies and won the state talent show in Baldwinsville. Over the years he has played with local bands such as the Old Timers and the Settlers Band, and now performs with the Border Ramblers. He plays “strictly by ear,” loves to play harmony, and favors “the old time tunes, they’re the best.” These days, he often plays for dances at Association of North Country Fiddlers events and for senior citizens in the area. In 2007, Leon was inducted into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame in Osceola, New York.
Wadhams United Church of Christ Annual Strawberry Festival, Wadhams, Essex County
Residents of the small Essex County community of Wadhams look forward each year to the strawberry festival sponsored by the United Church of Christ (formerly the First Congregational Church), now in its 147th year. Like box socials and ice cream socials of the past, the annual festival is both a fund raiser and a celebration of community--a mainstay of small towns. While there’s music and other festivities, strawberry shortcake from the new crop is the true highlight each year. Church members and friends, including recent transplants to Wadhams, work together to maintain this rite of early summer as an important local tradition.
Gunnison Memorial Chapel Bell Ringers, Canton, St. Lawrence County
Since 1926, when Gunnison Memorial Chapel was completed on the St. Lawrence University campus, a set of large bronze bells have rung from the bell tower to call students and others to worship services, college celebrations, weddings, and other occasions. From the beginning, students trained in the ancient art by other students have played tunes of all kinds, from classic hymns to Broadway show tunes. A long-standing tradition of a daily concert during academic semesters includes Westminster chimes beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 5:30 with the St. Lawrence alma mater. Being selected as a bell ringer is a cherished position for students. Alumni bell ringers sometimes return to play as well. The chapel bells are an important tradition in all the village of Canton, as local residents often comment.
There will be an informal presentation and chapel bell concert at St. Lawrence following the Salute. See the TAUNY Calendar for details.
The Salute to North Country Legends, and the related research and field work, are supported by The Sweetgrass Foundation, the Corning Incorporated Foundation, North Country Savings Bank, and National Grid.
For a complete list of past Heritage Award recipients click here.
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