By JEFF MEYERS, Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Garrett Lemza summarized the significance of the Battle of Plattsburgh with the winning drawing in this year’s Commemoration Weekend poster contest.
Lemza, who participated in the contest this past spring as a fourth-grader at Seton Academy, captured both the land battle and the naval encounter in his rendition of the Sept. 11, 1814, conflict, in which a small American force was able to defeat the much larger British invasion.
“When I was working on it, I thought I should do both the land and the naval battles,” Lemza said Tuesday afternoon after a receiving a $100 check from Kit Booth of the Battle of Plattsburgh Weekend Commemoration Committee for his first-place effort.
“I started with a blank piece of paper, sat down and thought about what I should do.”
With help from posters and commemorative buttons of past years that his class used for inspiration, Lemza sketched the mouth of the Saranac River, along with several land skirmishes around buildings that he drew on the shoreline. In the background, several ships are also shown engaged in the battle, which many historians believe sealed the American victory in the War of 1812.
“I couldn’t finish it at school, so I brought it home to work on,” he said.
He was able to avert disaster, he added, when his dog sat on the poster before it was completed.
Lemza’s artwork is on this year’s commemorative button, which costs $10 and allows access to more than 100 events between Aug. 31 and Sept. 9.
“This is the most important event the city is involved in every year,” said Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak. “It has been a premier event for the North Country for 15 years.”
Longtime organizers Gary VanCour and Booth highlighted this year’s new events during the committee’s annual press conference Tuesday at City Hall, including a kickoff British Invasion Dinner at Plattsburgh American Legion Post 20 on Friday, Aug. 31.
“Often, the question that people ask is what are you going to do new this year?’” VanCour said as he praised the dinner’s entertainment,
including Stan Ransom as “the Connecticut Peddler” and the local band Too Big for the Corner.
Reservations for the dinner are required by Aug. 24. Reservations can be made by calling the Battle of Plattsburgh Museum at 566-1814. Tickets are between $25 and $30.
NEW CHAZY EVENT
Activities will continue over the next few days as the British invasion moves south.
“The British didn’t airlift in,” VanCour said of the initial March from the Canadian border toward Plattsburgh. “Each year, we try to expand
to more towns, and this year, the Town of Chazy will be included for the first time.”
The British troops will camp at the Scott House on Route 9 in Chazy on Saturday, Sept. 1. That was the site of British Commander Gen. Prevost’s temporary headquarters.
Towne Meeting, a local band that plays folk, country and acoustic rock, will play at Chazy Central Rural School at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1.
Several historic lectures will be offered, including a new presentation from Donald Papson on African-Americans and the Battle of Plattsburgh, set for 2 p.m. Sept. 1 at the War of 1812 Museum on the Old Base campus.
“This is a cross-cultural event,” Booth said of the commemoration. “It’s important that we discuss a group of people who are
not always mentioned in the grand sum of things but who played an important role,”
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alan Taylor will discuss his book “The Civil War of 1812” during a presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, at E. Glenn Glitz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall at Plattsburgh State. Th
e event is co-sponsored by the New York Archives Partnership Trust and Plattsburgh State.
Booth noted that the musical events held this year “could be a musical festival by itself.”
Oh Betty, featuring Tim Hartnett and Julie Canepa, will perform, along with Bluz House Rockers, the McKrells, the Clem Hawkins Revival Band and P
rofessor Louie and the Cromatix.
Several acts will also play at the Israel Green Tavern, and Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band will be featured Saturday evening, Sept. 8.
The annual Riverside Cemetery Memorial will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, with Keith Herkalo hosting the event.
This year’s parade, to be held Saturday, Sept. 8, will feature more marching bands and participants.
“One thing people will notice is the grand marshal’s car will be empty (aside from the driver),” Booth said. “This will be in memory of those who went to com
bat and did not come back.”
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