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EC200 Heritage Commemoration Series kicks off June 30 at Roycroft Campus in East Aurora

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Thu, Jun 17th 2021 09:45 am

Roycroft Great Lawn to host Pride Night; music, vendors, speakers highlight evening celebration

√ Bicentennial series continues in July, August with heritage events

The EC200 committee announced the first event in the EC200 Heritage Commemoration Series will take place on Wednesday, June 30, at the historic Roycroft Campus in East Aurora. Pride Night will be a free event featuring musical performances by the Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus and speakers on the topics of local and regional activism such as the 10th anniversary of marriage equality in New York, and discussion of transgender rights. The celebratory event will take place from 7-9 p.m. on the Roycroft Campus' Great Lawn at 31 South Grove St. Gates open at 6 p.m. The Roycroft Copper Shop Gallery and Gift Shop will remain open until 6:30 p.m.

“This will be a fun, free event to kick off the Heritage Commemoration Series and it’s a great way to take part in Erie County’s bicentennial celebration,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “The series will highlight our heritage throughout the summer, with more events being scheduled around the county; so I encourage residents to join in and enjoy some summer fun.”

Dr. Robert Strauss, artistic director of the Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus, said, “This year marks the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus 20th anniversary and we're so proud to be able to be part of this event. We've always been proud to live in Erie County and are so grateful that, as part of the county's bicentennial, the county is showing pride in us and the LGBTQ community.”

Curt Maranto, executive director of the Roycroft Campus, said, “We are proud to partner with Erie County to present this unique program to the Western New York community. The Roycroft has been a center for the arts and progressive social issues since its founding in 1897, and is the perfect venue to commemorate our shared history.”

In addition to the chorus’ performance, speakers at the event will include the Buffalo-Niagara LGBTQ History Project and longtime activists Ari Moore and Camille Hopkins, presenting on local LGBTQ+ history, stories and events. The Pride event will be emceed by Buffalo Common Council Member Mitch Nowakowski (Fillmore District). Other participating organizations include the Buffalo History Museum and Gay & Lesbian Youth Services.

Flying Bison Brewing Co. will offer beer tastings. Attendees should bring their own blankets or chairs and may also bring their own refreshments; they are also asked to observe a carry-in/carry-out policy for food and trash. Masks should be worn while entering and exiting the event space and when purchasing food or drinks or using the restroom.

Tickets must be reserved. Visit https://www.roycroftcampuscorporation.com/upcoming-events/.

Participants requiring any accommodations should call ahead at 716-655-0261.

Additional Background

On April 2, 1821, New York state officially recognized Erie County. After the American Revolution, the Holland Land Co. purchased 3.2 million acres of land from the Seneca Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois).

In 1808, New York organized the westernmost land as Niagara County. By 1821, the population had increased so much that Niagara County was split.

Erie County, the land south of Tonawanda Creek, consisted of 10 towns and the Buffalo Creek Reservation. Today, Erie County has 25 towns, three cities, two tribal territories and a population of approximately 920,000.

Erie County has ties to several U.S. presidents. Millard Fillmore practiced law in East Aurora. He returned to Erie County and helped establish the University at Buffalo, Buffalo General Hospital and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

Grover Cleveland practiced law in Buffalo before becoming Erie County sheriff, mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York. He married Buffalo’s Frances Folsom.

In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo and, on Sept. 14 of that year, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansion as the nation’s 26th president.

Once heavily forested frontier, the region changed as the Erie Canal brought prosperity and made the Niagara Frontier one of the largest shipping and rail centers in the country.

Erie County is home to numerous inventors and inventions – the Ball canning jar, Barcalounger and air conditioning all originated in Buffalo. Wilson Greatbatch developed the implantable pacemaker in Clarence, and Bell Aircraft was one of the nation’s largest suppliers of aircraft during WWII.

Erie County boasts many major works by both local and national architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, H.H. Richardson, E.B. Green, William Wicks and Louise Bethune. Famous writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain and Lauren Belfer have all called the area “home.” Erie County has also given the world Fisher-Price toys and the chicken wing.

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