On April 11, 1823, by an Act of both houses in the New York State legislature, Wayne County was recognized as the 54th county in the state.
In honor of this event, a commemorative Founders Day celebration will take place on Tuesday, April 11th starting at 10:50 a.m. with a local bell choir on Church St. in Lyons, the County seat.
The ceremony will then commence with the ringing of bells all around the county at 10:58 a.m. which will continue for two minutes, signifying a community’s call to gather. This event is open to the public.
The main event will feature Marion American Legion Color Guard, Wayne County Sheriff’s Honor Guard, a gun salute, musical performances by local students, a commemorative postal cancellation cachet, and the reading of the official County proclamation. Federal and State dignitaries will also extend official citations and proclamations to County leaders followed by the unveiling and dedication of an historic marker at the steps of the iconic 1854 courthouse.
Following the celebration, a private lunch reception will be held at the Lyons Community Center (9 Manhattan St.) until 1:30 p.m. when the public is again invited to join in the celebration. The afternoon program at the Community Center will include a special presentation by New York State Historian, Devin Lander. “I am honored to be asked to take part in Wayne County’s 200th birthday,” Lander said. “I grew up in nearby Steuben County and understand the deep and vital history of this part of New York State. Commemorations like these allow us the opportunity to look back at our history to better understand where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.”
The afternoon program will also include a brief dedication of the Wayne County Bicentennial Book, Voices of Wayne County, in honor of Larry Ann Evans who passed away in December 2020. She was a prolific historian and writer who was also the Director of the Wayne County Museum and co-chair of the Bicentennial Committee. There will also be more musical performances from local students, displays from all 15 towns and their villages, Bicentennial sponsors’ recognition, and commemorative items for sale including the book, t-shirts, posters, and more.
Newly elected Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) also sent congratulations on the auspicious occasion. “Being named after General Anthony Wayne, an American Revolutionary War hero and statesman, says a lot,” commented Tenney. “Wayne County has played such an important role in so many chapters of our nation’s history. It is home to 35 miles the historic Erie Canal which helped accelerate the industrial revolution, as well as home to many stations of the Underground Railroad that helped free thousands of enslaved people. The county continues to contribute to the nation’s prosperity by being the top apple-producing county in New York State and among the highest in the nation! To the nearly 91,000 New Yorkers who call this beautiful county home, congratulations on this historic occasion! It is an honor to represent Wayne County in Congress, and I am delighted to recognize and celebrate your bicentennial.”
Local State Senator Pamela Helming commended the county saying, “Since its founding, Wayne County has been synonymous with a history steeped in culture. Beginning with the First People of the Cayuga and Seneca Nations, and evolving into the agricultural center of New York State through the hard work of farmers who made Wayne County the number one producer of apples. Over these past 200 years, Wayne County has also developed into a tourist destination, where visitors flock to the Lake Ontario shoreline and travel to the abundant number of farms and farm markets to taste delicious food and beverages produced locally. I am proud to represent Wayne County in the New York State Senate and I extend my heartiest congratulations on the occasion of their bicentennial.”
The morning ceremony will be livestreamed through the Wayne County NY YouTube page youtube.com/@waynecountyny8419.
This day will kick off the year-long Bicentennial celebration which includes two main events. First, a Bicentennial Gala on Saturday, May 13 at the Ballroom at Carey Lake in Walworth, followed by a 5-day, 200-mile Torch Relay around Wayne County in August leading up to Family Fun Day at the Wayne County Fair. Other events and celebrations are being managed by individual towns and villages, and by the Bicentennial Committee and its co-chairs, Gene Bavis and Rosa Fox.
Wayne County Board of Supervisors appointed committee co-chairs in 2018 to start the planning process. Phil Eygnor, Huron Supervisor and County Chairman, said of the co-chairs, “These two individuals have excelled in their roles to make the Bicentennial something the Board of Supervisors is very proud of. It is my hope the entire community will take some time to participate in one of the many events that are planned for 2023.”
County Administrator Rick House commented, “Having been born and raised in Wayne County, raising my family in Wayne County and working my entire adult life for Wayne County, I am excited and honored to take part in this bicentennial celebration. Wayne County holds so much beauty; from the rolling hills, to the miles of orchards, to the beautiful lake views and much more. The mix of agriculture, small business, beautiful county and town parks, and much more, make Wayne County a perfect place to live and raise families. I am proud to share in this celebration of 200 years of Wayne County growth and most importantly, the people who have lived, worked, played in and built this County.”
For more information on the Founding Day Celebration and other Bicentennial events, please visit www.WayneCounty200.com