This spring and summer, take a trip along New York State’s waterways — and enjoy unique cultural events — in celebration of the historic Erie Canal Bicentennial. In first-time interagency collaboration between NYSCA and the New York State Canal Corporation, Regional Economic Development Council funding has been provided for a wide range of arts activities from the Canal Corridor to the Hudson River, Champlain Canal and New York Harbor.
View the listings below or on our events calendar for information on the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s free waterfront performances, the Corning Museum of Glass’ floating GlassBarge, and much more. These will be updated continuously as new events are announced.
Oyster Bay Historical Society
April 30 at 2pm
The film “Boom and Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal,” tells the story of industrial expansion and decline along the Erie Canal, while creatively meditating on economic cycles and the American Dream. A panel discussion will follow, featuring producers and folklorists Steve Zeitlin and Dan Ward, and Steve Wunder, a retired canal barge boat captain.
Oyster Bay Historical Society
May 6 at 1pm
Explore boat building and songs of work and play with boat builder and model maker Chris Hale, Rocking the Boat, a volunteer youth program based in the Bronx, and folksong singers Stephen Sanfilippo and Stuart Markus. The program is free and suitable for families and children.
May 6 and June 3 from 10am – 1pm
This two-session workshop will provide an introduction to five different forms of poetry and strategies for composing poetry, as well as an opportunity to write and share poems inspired by various perspective of the Erie Canal, past and present. This workshop is limited to 20 participants.
June 2 – 4, 4:30pm to 5pm
The Corning Museum of Glass’ GlassBarge – a mobile hot shop that will float along the canal – makes its maiden voyage at Fairport Canal Days. One of the most popular arts festivals in New York State, Fairport Canal Days attracts more than 200 artisans, many fine food vendors, great live music, and upwards of 200,000 visitors.
June 15 from 7pm – 10pm at the Syracuse Suds Factory
This workshop with musician and canal music researcher Dave Ruch (www.daveruch.com), with Dick Ford of Signature Music, will introduce songs and instrumental pieces from canal days, passing along to area musicians some truly regional folk music while inviting reflections and comparisons with their current repertory. This workshop is limited to 15 participants.
Various venues, Albany to Lockport
July 2-8, 8-9:30pm
Water Music NY is a week-long journey from Albany to Lockport along the Erie Canal featuring free waterfront performances, including newly commissioned works celebrating the unique history and heritage of 7 canal communities. Participating partners include the Empire State Youth Orchestra, Skidmore College Storytellers’ Institute, Capital Repertory Theatre, Mohawk Valley Choral Society, Syracuse Pops Chorus, Golden Eagle String Band, choreographer/dancers Eddie Murphy and Mariah Mahoney; composers include Daniel Schlossberg, Annika Socolofsky, Angelica Negron, Benjamin Wallace, Ryan Chase, Loren Loiacono, and Christopher Rogerson.
July 7 – 9, 5pm to 8pm
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in New York State, GlassBarge will deploy an all-female glassblowing team to the Seneca Falls Canal Fest. Along with the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, CMoG will celebrate the role of women in the shaping of our nation.
July 15 from 10am – 2pm
In this workshop, participants will explore the area of downtown Syracuse that was once occupied by the Erie Canal and utilize their cameras to create their own visions of history. The workshop will include an introduction to basic photography and end with a supportive critique. This workshop is limited to 10 participants.
July 22 from 12pm – 9:30pm
The Rome Chamber of Commerce, Rome Main Streets Alliance, and the City of Rome, present a Celebration of the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal. Music, Entertainment, Arts Show, Antique Show, Children’s Activities and Fireworks!
July 29 from 11am – 2pm
Participants learn spoken word storytelling techniques based on their impressions of the Erie Canal’s history, impact, and relevance to their lives built around one famous incident in Canal history; and develop creative ideas for spoken word tales that build on these impressions. This workshop is limited to 15 participants.
September 9-10, Waterford
Hudson River Stories is a traveling arts and culture celebration of boats, cargo, people and ideas, and how they all came together to influence the region’s river, canals and ports. The exhibit will be housed aboard the historic covered barge Pennsylvania Railroad No. 399 and will travel along the Hudson River.
September 13 from 5pm – 8pm
This is a landscape drawing and painting workshop in structure, but it is an opportunity to inform oneself of the possibilities that exist in our changing City through creativity and experimentation. This is a workshop for all levels, and a great opportunity for young artists to develop portfolio pieces. This workshop is limited to 15 participants.
September 24-28, Syracuse
To celebrate the first year of the bicentennial of the Erie Canal (2017-2025), the World Canals Conference will be in Syracuse, N.Y., this year. The annual conference brings together hundreds of canal enthusiasts, professionals, and scholars from around the world who share a love for these waterways, and work to preserve, interpret, and revitalize them. Although the conference requires registration, there will be GlassBarge events that are open to the public. The GlassBarge will be joined by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Lois McClure, a reproduction 1866, masted canal barge—the same type of vessel that would have moved the glass factory from Brooklyn to Corning—to help tell the story of 19th century canal shipping and canal life.
October 6-15, Kingston
As the SS Columbia continues its tour, a stop in Kingston will include a collaborative event with the Hudson River Maritime Museum, an immersive performance piece designed to share the storied history of Columbia and highlight the features that made Columbia the boat of the people, a salsa night, an SS Columbia-themed pinata-making event for kids, and more.