Bicentennial events get underway
YATES COUNTY--Yates County is in full celebration mode - a celebration 200 years in the making - and is kicking it off with a traveling exhibit. Currently on display at the Town of Benton office on Route 14A, the three-paneled exhibit shares historical facts illustrated with iconic images.
As all good stories do, the traveling exhibit begins at the beginning, with information about the Society of Universal Friends, who were the first non-Native people to settle in Yates County. The exhibit also gives a nod to Jimmy Cole, who operated a circus in the county during the mid-20th century, complete with performing elephants. It also features some recognizable landmarks, including the 1828 Bellona Stone Mill, which once produced flour, grain, animal feed, and cider.
"The mill is still standing and is quite striking," said Tricia Noel, executive director and curator of the Yates County History Center. "It's a well-known landmark."
The traveling exhibit, curated by Lisa Harper, records management officer in Yates County, debuted after the county legislators adopted a resolution to commemorate the founding of Yates County at a recent meeting, according to Noel.
The Yates County Sheriff's Office is also joining in on the milestone. Sheriff Ron Spike has issued a new Bicentennial uniform badge for most full-time uniform members who regularly interact with the community.
"We will wear this badge with pride for the 2023 Bicentennial year," said Spike. "The Yates County Sheriff's Office looks forward to taking part in the Bicentennial events this year."
In April, the committee will organize a tree planting to recognize an apple tree species that was born in Yates County: the Wagener Apple tree, developed in the 1790s.
"There are not many left," said Noel. "We found a few at a nursery in Ithaca that specializes in historic fruit trees. We're hoping this effort might help to bring a few more back within our borders."
The committee has also planned a gala for May, a parade in August, an 1823 dinner and "spooky story-telling" on the Outlet Trail in October, and a Veteran's Day event. In addition, several villages, including Dresden and Dundee, are organizing complimentary events. Noel recommends following the Bicentennial Celebration - Yates County Facebook page to stay informed of planned events. Find it here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100085040006012
If you miss the traveling exhibit in Benton, its next stop is the county's office building, where you will also find a photographic exhibit highlighting the history of Yates County.