By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The 2013 Battle of Plattsburgh celebration will feature some new twists, as well as many time-tested favorites that have drawn crowds for years.
The annual event, held this year Sept. 13 through 15, commemorates the American victory over an overwhelming British force during the Sept. 11, 1814, battle on Plattsburgh Bay.
“The Battle of Plattsburgh event is without a doubt the premiere event in the North Country every year,” City of Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak said during a press conference to announce this year’s schedule Thursday afternoon.
“I am as confident as I’ve ever been that this year’s event will be as good or better than ever.”
Battle of Plattsburgh Commemorative Committee Co-Chairs Kit Booth and Gary Vancour highlighted this year’s event while hinting of the major celebration the community will see during the 200th-anniversary commemoration in 2014.
“It has been an interesting year in getting the process accomplished,” said Booth, who announced that he and Vancour will be stepping down after the 2014 affair.
They are confident, he said, that a new commemorative committee will step forward to take the reins.
“We’ve been spending a quarter of our time on the Battle of Plattsburgh 2014 celebration,” he added. “It will be the 200th anniversary of what we think is the most important battle of the War of 1812, the battle that settled the deal (in America gaining victory over Britain in the War of 1812).”
FOLLOWING THE ROUTE
Vancour reviewed some of the preliminary activities that will be happening along the route the British soldiers followed as they marched south toward Plattsburgh before the Sept. 11 battle.
“The bloodiest day (of the region’s conflicts leading up to Sept. 11) was on Sept. 6, when the British took control of the Town of Plattsburgh,” he said.
The British established their headquarters, he said, at the site where American Legion Post 20 now stands on Quarry Road.
The British Invasion Dinner, set for 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 6 at the post, will kick off commemorative events.
Then, several events will happen in succession on Sept. 7, from Dewey’s Tavern in Champlain to Culver Hill in Beekmantown, Halsey’s Corners in Plattsburgh and the Scott House in Chazy, each location a point of importance during the march of the British.
Committee member Kate Besaw announced a new event that will feature a children’s encampment, where kids will wear clothing and uniforms from the time period and work on arts, crafts and chores youngsters were doing 200 years ago.
That will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 14, and then from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.
Sunday’s traditional Old-Time Village Fair for children will also be held, featuring storytelling, horseback riding and arts and crafts.
STRAND AS SITE
The weekend will feature at least 19 separate concerts, many of them at the newly renovated Strand Theater on Brinkerhoff Street. In fact, weekend organizers are excited about the opportunity to christen the new Strand during the weekend.
The traditional re-enactment at the mouth of the Saranac River will still be held Sunday afternoon, but Saturday’s skirmishes will take place at the Beekmantown Town Hall on Spellman Road.
Participants will emerge from the woods at the Town Hall, just as they did in 1814, Vancour said.
The highlight of Thursday’s press conference was the announcement of this year’s poster winners.
Nearly 300 fourth-graders from across the region created artwork for the commemoration, and the top three artists received accolades from the committee and Kasprzak.
“I looked at a picture of last year’s winner (for inspiration),” said overall winner Skylar Staley, whose depiction of an American soldier from the War of 1812 will be displayed on the 2013 commemorative buttons used for admission to the weekend events.
“Since he was American, I drew an American flag in the background.”
Skylar, a student at Morrisonville Elementary School, enjoys drawing on a regular basis and receives a lot of support from friends who praise her artwork.
“I like to draw because they inspire me,” she said, adding that she’d like to become an art teacher one day. “You can do anything you want (with artwork). You can use your imagination to create things.”
Skylar said she was “really excited” to learn she won the contest and was “so proud of myself” to see her work on the buttons.
Rouses Point Elementary School student Deren Purisic drew a portrait of American Gen. Alexander Macomb that won second place. He said he used Macomb as his focus because of the important role the general played in the battle.
Marlie Sample from Mooers Elementary School was awarded third place for her rendition of soldiers fighting in the woods. She actually used her own backyard and her horse, Shelby, as models for the drawing.
Email Jeff Meyers:email@example.com
JOIN THE FUN
Organizers continue to look for volunteers to help with the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration weekend events.
Email Diane Kwarta at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561-4039.
See a complete schedule of the Battle of Plattsburgh weekend events at: www.champlain1812.com.