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Ellicottville Bicentennial Celebration

200 Years of Your Favorite Ski Town

The Era of Good Feelings. In 1820, President James Monroe’s practically unopposed reelection campaign came during a time when American unity ran at an all-time high. After the War of 1812, a nation in its infancy had just defeated the world’s foremost superpower (again) and began its expansion west and south. 

In a small corner of western New York, the Holland Land Company was in the midst of mapping and creating. From Franklinville to Great Valley, new towns began popping up. Little did these early settlers know that one of them would eventually transform into a ski town that brought visitors from across the world. Ellicottville. 

In 2020, the town of Ellicottville will celebrate its Bicentennial. Thanks to the Ellicottville Historical Society, the celebration will revolve around 3-4 distinct events as unique as the town’s history. Dawn Westfall, a member of the Bicentennial Committee and president of the Ellicottville Historical Society, said there’s much to celebrate. 

“We saw the success of Great Valley’s bicentennial a few years ago, and we think we can mimic that in Ellicottville,” she said. “With the Holland Land Company, many of the towns in the surrounding area are beginning to or have celebrated their 200th birthdays.” 

If you’re wondering - there is a difference between the village and the town. In 1987, the Village of Ellicottville celebrated its sesquicentennial (150th), but that was only after it had been incorporated by the Town. In many eyes, however, Ellicottville is Ellicottville - so at the once-a-month meetings, different ideas are tossed around on how to best celebrate this historic landmark. 

“When we first started planning the celebration a few years ago, we’d have meetings every few months,” Westfall said. “But recently we started having them once a month to keep everyone on the same page. And it’s a good opportunity for ideas to be tossed around. Which there are a lot of!”

The community has stepped up. Local artist Barbara Fox created a cancellation stamp celebrating 200 years that will be used by the local Post Office. Ellicottville Distillery owner Bryan Scharf plans on creating a commemorative whiskey, after someone found a bottle from a past era labeled “Pride of Ellicottville.”

The Historical Society plans on having three events that revolve around the celebration. The first will coincide with Holiday Valley’s Winter Carnival in March. 

“It’s a collaboration between Holiday Valley and the Historical Society,” Westfall said. “Since the Historical Society building is closed during the winter, a lot of Ellicottville’s visitors have never had the chance to visit it. So the plan, as of right now, is to create a traveling museum where many of the artifacts can be displayed right at Holiday Valley.” 

The second, the Town’s actual birthday.

“April 13th is the big day,” she continued. “We’ll have a town birthday celebration, kind of mimicking what we did in Great Valley. We’ll have Pioneer Certificates. If you have ancestors that were here before 1880, you’ll receive a certificate and recognition, plus a special invitation to the party. We have the application on our Facebook page.”

The third will revolve around alumni weekend in July. 

“We’ll try and piggyback off of the alumni festivities,” she said. “It’s Old Home Weekend, which is a tradition for Ellicottville since the 1910s. The Calumet Club, which was a forerunner to the current chamber of commerce, started it to get local businesses together. And the 154th Regiment, called “The Hardtack Regiment,” was a Union force that fought during the Civil War. There’s a celebration for that with a reunion for descendants. We’re planning on having a parade and a myriad of other events.” 

The celebration for Ellicottville’s 200th birthday begins in 2020. For more information on the series of events and how you can help, visit the Ellicottville Historical Society on Facebook.