People and Places that Exemplify Traditional North Country Life

By TAUNY’s definition, a legend is a story based upon real events and experiences but often characterized by people just a little larger than life. Their talents and background go beyond the ordinary, and tales about them are embellished with each retelling. Their exploits and accomplishments live for generations beyond them. These people are really special to the North Country way of life, now and in the future. We are pleased to be able to present their stories to you on this site.



Varick Chittendon, TAUNY FounderSince 1993, North Country Heritage Awards have been presented 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 Varick Chittenden. In his work as a folklorist Varick met many people whose dedication to tradition-based skills and knowledge quietly conserved the cultural fabric of our region. Varick wanted to shine a spotlight on these important, but usually unsung, contributions.

An important element of the Heritage Awards over the years has been an annual public celebration to honor recipients, known as the Salute to North Country Heritage. Recipients are also featured in a permanent exhibition at The TAUNY Center.


Some More Details

HERITAGE-LOGO-webIn 2014, following a year of strategic review, TAUNY’s Board of Directors recommitted to, and authorized the expansion of this signature program. Beginning in 2015:

  • Awards are now given in four categories, in recognition of the many ways cultural conservation occurs. Click here for descriptions of the categories.
  • The Register of Very Special Places, a program established at TAUNY in 2002 to recognize cultural landmarks, has been integrated into the Heritage Awards program.
  • Year-round programs featuring current and past recipients will give the public more opportunities to interact with and learn from them.


How Are Recipients Chosen?

Nominations come from TAUNY staff, board of directors, and the general public, and are accepted year-round. If you would like to make a nomination, please click here. Nominations are reviewed by TAUNY staff in the spring, and are considered according to criteria established for each of the categories. A slate of candidates is presented to the full board of directors for a vote in late spring.


A word about photographs
From 1993 – 2013, TAUNY had the good fortune to work with world-renowned photographer Martha Cooper, who traveled to the North Country each year to photograph Heritage Award recipients. Unless otherwise noted, all contemporary photographs of recipients during this period are the work of Martha Cooper. In 2014, Martha’s travel schedule for other work made it impossible for her to make the trip north, and photographer Jason Hunter joined the program. Unless otherwise noted, vintage photographs on this site are courtesy of the recipients, who graciously made their family albums available to us.