By Deb Everts

The official kick-off of the Town of Ellicottville Bicentennial celebration will take place March 14 and 15 during the Mardi Gras event in the village and Holiday Valley’s Winter Carnival.

The annual two-day event will include the first bicentennial event of the year starting with the annual Mardi Gras Parade in the village on Saturday evening. With “Bicentennial” the theme, the parade will feature floats and marching units. Parade participants should start lining up by Katy’s Café on Washington Street and be ready by 6 p.m. because the parade officially begins at 6:30 p.m. Marchers are encouraged to dress in period costume. 

More bicentennial events will take place upstairs at Holiday Valley’s main lodge. Organizer Dawn Westfall said there will be a reception marking the bicentennial, both Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

In conjunction with Holiday Valley, the Ellicottville Historical Society will have displays featuring vintage photographs of the beginning of Ellicottville and the start of skiing in the town, along with some historical pieces from the museum. There will also be a Sing-A-Long with the Ellicottville Ski Club at 1:15 p.m.

Westfall and Town Historian Mary Elizabeth Dunbar will share all they know about Ellicottville’s history. Holiday Valley will have its 60th anniversary video there to watch. The Tucker (old groomer) and snowmobiles will be on display by the clock tower. Holiday Valley’s Food and Beverage will provide complimentary hot cocoa and hot, mulled wine.

“In addition to photographs, we’ll also have two vintage maps of the village from 1869 and 1925 with the landowners’ names on them,” Westfall said. 

Edna Northrup, Ellicottville’s well-known adventurer, skier and author of “For the Love of Skiing,” will be talking about her memories of the early days of skiing in Ellicottville at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. People will also have the opportunity to view a video about the Ellicottville Historical Society that has been created by Ashley Baron, a freelance videographer and editor. 

Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase a unique bottle of commemorative bicentennial whiskey at the event. Made exclusively for the town’s 200th birthday by local distiller Bryan Scharf and his crew at the Ellicottville Distillery, the rye whiskey will have a special commemorative label inspired by an old whiskey bottle owned by the Dineen family, in Ellicottville.

Woodcarver Keith McKale of Fern Wood Art will also be at the reception offering some bicentennial commemorative carving pieces for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the bicentennial. 

For a schedule of Holiday Valley’s Winter Carnival events, visit online at holidayvalley.com.

Westfall said the upcoming Winter Carnival, the Town of Ellicottville’s Birthday Party in April and Old Home Week in July are the three main events scheduled for the Bicentennial Celebration, but more are in the works including a potential 5K Run in October.

THE NEXT bicentennial event will be the town’s 200th birthday party on April 13 at 4 p.m. when Pioneer Certificates will be presented at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. 

“Over 50 people applied for a Pioneer Certificate, but about 150 certificates will be issued because many of the applicants have applied for additional certificates for their family members,” she said.

Westfall said State Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio and will be attending the birthday celebration and jointly issuing a proclamation for the town’s bicentennial. She said Crystal Abers, director of the county Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism, will be there as well to issue a county proclamation. 

Westfall said the Commemorative Postal Cancellation Stamp designed by local artist Barbara Fox has been approved and will be available for any mail that goes through Ellicottville on April 13 only.

Old Home Weekend is solidly set for July 17-19, which will coincide with Ellicottville Central School’s annual Alumni Weekend. There will be a street dance downtown on Friday from 7 to 9 p.m., after the Stroll the Streets event. Westfall said the dance will coordinate with the 1800s-themed Stroll that is planned this year, so people are encouraged to wear period costumes.

A parade is being planned for Saturday morning in the village. It will begin at 10 a.m. at the town center and end by Jefferson Street where a carnival sponsored by St. Paul’s, and block party will be held. Another Saturday event will be the 35th Annual Reunion of the Descendants of the 154th New York from 1 to 4 p.m. at the town center. A chicken barbecue is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Sunday on the lawn of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The 14-month, historical calendar commemorating 200 years of history in the Town of Ellicottville is still available at the town hall, the clerk’s office and Holiday Valley. The cost is $10 with all proceeds funding the 2020 bicentennial celebrations, as well as the Ellicottville Historical Society and Museum. They can also be ordered on the Ellicottville Historical Society’s Facebook page.

The committee would like to thank the following businesses for contributing to the success of the calendar sales: Alexandra, Ava Grace Fashions, Ellicottville Pharmacy, Ellicottville Memorial Library, Holiday Valley Resort Services Center, The Inn at Holiday Valley, Town of Ellicottville Clerk’s Office and Watson’s Chocolates.

The committee continues to seek sponsorship and tax-deductible donations that will go toward the bicentennial events.

The next meeting will be held Thursday, April 2 at 6 p.m. at the Memorial Library of Ellicottville, 6499 Maples Road. For updated information, questions or to volunteer, contact Westfall at 699-6201 or daylight398@gmail.com. Also, visit the Ellicottville Historical Society’s Facebook page.