In just over one year, the town of Westport will celebrate two centuries as a Lake Champlain shore entity.
The Westport Bicentennial is planned for the weekend of July 4-6, 2015, with a committee currently formed to help plan for the event and seeking community involvement in planning and researching.
“We are organizing a weekend full of festivities with DJs, children’s activities, Westport history museum, fireworks, craft and food vendors and much more,” committee member Medara Sherman said. “Our current focus is any local history papers, pictures, artifacts, historical memorabilia that you may have or may know of someone that does have.”
Sherman said there are a wide range of topics and themes the committee is looking for to help celebrate the heritage of Westport, including Lake Champlain life (steamboats, ice harvesting, Polar Bear plunge, horse racing on the lake, commerce); industry (sawmills, blacksmiths, lumber, agriculture, grocery stores, drug stores); hotels and inns; major fires; school houses; railway; oil tanks; phone history and organizations.
The committee is also looking for historical information throughout the community.
“Do you have information about the house you live in, like the year built, historical significance, and history of the house?” Sherman asked. “If you are willing to share your family’s genealogy, please bring it to us and we will copy and return originals to you.”
Signs of the bicentennial celebration have already started to pop up around the hamlet.
Thanks to Sally Brown, the committee has introduced a window display located downtown between the CATS Office building and Champlain National Bank, Sherman said. “Shirts will be available for purchase with all the proceeds to benefit a family-oriented birthday celebration for the Town of Westport.”
The committee has set up shop in the basement area of the Chazy and Westport Telephone Company for their headquarters with the help of business owner Jim Forcier.
Along with mementos of the past, the committee is also looking for funds and manpower.
“We are looking for volunteers to man the office space for a few hours each day and work on small projects,” Sherman said.
Fundraising has already began with a coin drive lead by elementary students at Westport Central School.
“They have created themed containers to fill with coins that will then be donated to the fireworks display as part of the Bicentennial celebration of 2015,” Sherman said. “The containers will be on display at the Westport branch of Champlain National Bank March 24 through March 31.”
Sherman said people can cast their vote for the best containers with their change. The class who receives the most “votes” through fundraising will win an ice cream party donated by Stewart’s Shops and the class voted to have the most creative container will win a pizza party donated by Champlain National Bank.
The committee has also set up a fundraiser at the Rapid Returns Redemption Center in Elizabethtown, where those recycling bottles can donate the funds to the “Westport Bicentennial Celebration,” account.
The Bicentennial Committee will next meet April 8 at 8:30 a.m. at the Westport Town Hall.
For more information on the Westport Bicentennial Committee and celebration, contact Westport Town Clerk Sheila Borden at 962-8360 or Sherman at 963-4201, ext. 4201.