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Chamber pays tribute to Old Fort Niagara

by system
Mon, May 10th 2010 11:00 am

Prepared by Jennifer Pauly
Marketing/Events Manger
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce

On Friday, May 21, the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual gala at the Niagara Falls Country Club, Mountain View Drive in Lewiston. The event opens at 6 p.m. with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction, followed by a sit-down dinner and awards program.

The affair honors nine prominent businesses and individuals in the area, whose profiles have appeared in the Lewiston-Porter Sentinel over past months. In today's issue, we conclude our profiles, spotlighting the 2010 Chairman's Award honoree.

Old Fort Niagara - 2010 Chairman's Award

Old Fort Niagara has been chosen for the 2010 Chairman's Award by George Osborne, chairman of the board of directors of the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce. This historic treasure has served as an educational and tourist attraction that has helped to generate more than 100,000 visitors to the area every year.

Old Fort Niagara is a National Historic Landmark that has dominated the entrance of the Niagara River since 1726. It sits within Old Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown. The fort features the oldest buildings in the Great Lakes basin and played an important role in the struggles of France, Great Britain and the United States to control the Great Lakes region of North America. It also helped shape the destinies of the Iroquois (Six Nations) peoples and the nation of Canada. The fort is an international leader in the use of living history programming to educate audiences about the early history of North America.

Through the leadership of Robert Emerson, executive director, 2009 was a banner year for Old Fort Niagara as the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the siege of the fort during the French and Indian War took place. The year brought special events and new daily programs that greatly improved the public's interpretation of the site's early history. New exhibits were also developed both on and off site with special site-specific artifacts on display. Attendance for the year saw an 11 percent increase, the largest percentage increase since 1981. In recognizing the anniversary of the siege of the fort, excellent press coverage was generated throughout the United States and Canada.

The commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the events of 1759 began in May of 2009 with the re-creation of the burning of Fort du Portage in Niagara Falls, NY. The event was attended by more than 350 people. The signature event was held July 3-5, 2009, and was the 250th anniversary of the siege of the fort. A record 15,000 visitors attended the siege weekend as well as 2,300 re-enactors. Fireworks, a naval battle, night bombardment, huge living history camps and battles throughout Fort Niagara State Park were all highlights of this memorable event.

Two new daily programs were also introduced into the programming. Rivals for Empire debuted in May of 2009 as an interactive program for school students, serving more than 10,000 students. This was followed by Niagara Besieged, an interactive program geared toward multi-age audiences. This program served more than 24,000 visitors. For both programs, actors were hired portraying characters from the Siege of 1759. Characters presented scripted monologues in "first-person" and also interacted with guests on a more informal level. They were backed by large numbers of costumed interpreters who fired muskets and cannons, taunted "the enemy," prepared rations, and led a number of hands-on activities like 18th century games or infantry exercise. Public reaction to the programs was overwhelmingly positive.

Old Fort Niagara has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Niagara area, featuring the oldest buildings on the Great Lakes, spectacular scenery, historical exhibits and exciting special events. It is open year-round with special programs and events scheduled every month. For more information on Old Fort Niagara events, admission and history, visit www.OldFortNiagara.org or call 745-7611.

The chairman and the board of directors of the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce proudly congratulates Old Fort Niagara, its staff, board of directors and volunteers for all of their work in bringing heritage tourism to the forefront as an important historical and educational asset to the Niagara River Region.

Tickets for this year's Chamber Gala are still available. Call 754-9500 for details.

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