Community leaders, groups, business owners, county commissioners, and state legislators joined the PA Route 6 Alliance in Corry on October 5th-6th to participate in the organization’s 2023 Educational Workshop and Annual Meeting & “Do 6” Awards presentation.
The 2-day in-person event began with an educational workshop at Relevant Church on Thursday, October 5th, and featured numerous guest speakers discussing a variety of topics related to this year’s theme, “Act, Adapt, and Attract.” Bill Callahan from the Pennsylvania Museums and Historic Commission and Melinda Meyer from Preservation Erie each presented on the historic elements of adaptive reuse. Tina Mengine (Erie County Redevelopment Authority), Daria Devlin (Hamot Health Foundation), and Charles Gray (Impact Corry) discussed current projects that feature adaptive reuse. Sam Pearson (PA Downtown Center) presented on active transportation planning in our communities. Matthew Platz (Corry Higher Education Council) and Brad Gleason (Gannon University) discussed the importance of fiber infrastructure for developing workforce talent, while Abbi Peters (PA Wilds Center) and Sean Fedorko (Radius CoWork) presented on the various facets of remote work and entrepreneurship.
Following the workshop was a walking tour of Downtown Corry where participants could see many of the ideas for adaptive reuse that have been put into action within the city. Later that evening, guests were treated to a farm-to-table dinner at 3 Pillarz Farm with gourmet food served up by Betsy Grinder of Your Daily Serving.
On Friday, October 6th, the event moved to the Fork and Barrel Restaurant in Corry for the PA Route 6 Annual Meeting and “Do 6” Awards presentation. Following a business meeting and election of officers, PA Route 6 Alliance presented on their goals and accomplishments across the Route 6 corridor, including tourism promotion and marketing, bicycle tourism and Bike Friendly Business Program, state byway designation efforts, the PA Route 6 Artisan Trail, PA Route 6 Public Art & Mural Trail, and PA Route 6 Façade Programs.
There were also presentations by four communities who are currently implementing the Community Heart & Soul Program led by the PA Humanities Council and Orton Foundation: Tidioute, Youngsville, Carbondale, and Wyoming County. PA Route 6 Alliance announced that two communities within the Route 6 Corridor will also be joining this program in the coming months, Mansfield in Tioga County and Port Allegany in McKean County.
Jeff Siegler was the keynote speaker for the Annual Meeting. Siegler is a writer, speaker, and consultant concerned with the powerful role place plays in our lives. He is the founder of the civic pride consulting firm, Revitalize, or Die. After obtaining his Masters in Urban Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University, Jeff went to work on Main Street, first as a downtown manager and later as the Ohio Main Street State Coordinator. Siegler presented on “Civic Pride & Civic Apathy.”
The two-day event was capped off on Friday afternoon by the Climax & Corets, Arts & Innovation Festival in downtown Corry which celebrated Corry’s legacy in invention and industry.
“Do6” Awards were presented for 2023 in the categories of Heritage Partnership, Heritage Tourism, Heritage Leadership, Artisan of the Year, Heritage Community of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement. Each award recipient also received special recognition from one or more state legislators in the form of a citation from the PA House of Representatives and Pennsylvania Senate.
(Photos of award winners, left to right: Melinda Meyer (Lifetime Achievement), Hurry Hill Maple Farm and Museum Association (Heritage Partnership Award), Stephen Green (Heritage Tourism Award), The Gathering Place (Artisan of the Year), Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau (Heritage Leadership Award), and Honesdale (Heritage Community of the Year Award)) Click here to read more about each award winner.
The Heritage Partnership Award is given to a person, group, or project that has demonstrated excellence in historic and cultural preservation, interpretation, and/or education through cross-corridor thinking and interagency cooperation. The 2023 Heritage Partnership Award was presented to Hurry Hill Farm and Museum Association in Edinboro, Erie County. Hurry Hill Maple Farm and Museum Association welcomes as many as 3,000 people to tour the farm and museum during the Northwest PA Maple Association Taste and Tour event every year.
Hurry Hill Maple Farm and Museum Association is also the home of a PA Historical Marker honoring the Newberry Award-winning book “Miracles on Maple Hill” by Virginia Sorenson, a children’s book about growing up in a maple syrup producing area. Hurry Hill Maple Farm and Museum Association’s dedication to historical and cultural preservation is also evidenced in entertaining exhibits such as their “Tree to Table” displays, various children’s activities that teach the importance of Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage, and in the products they produce, which are preserved and extended through natural processes. A visit to Hurry Hill Maple Farm and Museum Association is a unique family experience and a prime destination for all visitors traveling through the PA Route 6 Corridor.
The Heritage Tourism Award is presented to the organizers of a project or event that furthers economic and tourism development while still respecting the heritage and cultural resources of the corridor. The 2023 Heritage Tourism Award was presented to Stephen Green of Coudersport, Potter County. Curator Stephen Green has developed the Eliot Ness Museum in Coudersport into an outstanding attraction at the midpoint of the Pennsylvania Route 6 corridor. Green has pulled together business partners, tourist attractions and community leaders, operators of other museums and cultural attractions, along with Ness historians to development of an attraction that puts significant historical developments in the proper perspective – Ness vs. Capone, history of Prohibition, the evolution of criminal justice, connections of Ness to Potter County and other parts of Pennsylvania, and many others. He weaves regional history and many colorful, entertaining themes into the mosaic which have helped the Eliot Ness Museum become a top attraction along PA Route 6.
The Heritage Leadership Award is presented to a person, business, or organization for meaningful contributions and/or partnerships that have resulted in the enrichment of our communities through landscape initiatives or historic preservation. The 2023 Heritage Leadership Award was presented to the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau in McKean County. The Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau is a leader in creating projects which successfully celebrate the heritage of the area while honoring the natural attributes of the land. Trail Central is a long-term leadership goal. To connect via trails our communities in McKean County to Allegheny National Forest, Allegany and Kinzua Bridge State Parks. Kinzua Bridge State Park is the heart of the project with all the trails linking to the park.
The bureau has adopted the principles of National Geographic’s Geo-tourism Program. The bureau created Forest Press, printing 3 award-winning books and the CD “Tracks Across the Sky.” The bureau was instrumental in obtaining funding to repair the Kinzua Viaduct, and after the tornado, in creating the vision of a major destination, the reinvention of the six towers as the Kinzua Sky Walk. The ANFVB funded the interpretive plan for the Visitors Center. Partners have included Headwaters Charitable Trust/Knox & Kane Rail Trail, ANF, DCNR, DCED, Tuna Valley Trail Association, TAMED, MJ2KB, Kinzua Valley Trail, and Willow Creek Snowmobile Association. They have also created non-traditional “trails” within the Trail Central branding, including the Smethport Mansion District Walking Trail and the Bradford National Historic District Walking Trail. Their outdoor kiosk project has placed attraction maps on outdoor kiosks in five communities.
The Artisan of the Year Award is presented to an Artisan Trail member that exemplifies the goals of the PA Route 6 Artisan Trail program with special attention to regional thinking and cooperation while promoting the arts along the corridor. The 2023 Artisan of the Year Award was presented to The Gathering Place in Lackawanna County. The Gathering Place in Clarks Summit is a dynamic community center that celebrates creativity, education and the arts in a unique way that embraces the entire community. The Gathering Place facilitates inclusive partnerships, creativity, education, programming, and the arts within the community in an environment filled with creative energy, a passion for lifelong learning, and a strengthened sense of belonging. The Gathering Place truly epitomizes regional cooperation in promotion of various art forms as well as inclusivity of artists and artisans within the Route 6 corridor.
The Heritage Community of the Year Award is presented to one designated Heritage Community that is embracing their Heritage Tourism WorkPlan and implementing worthwhile projects that show impact and results in their community. The 2023 Heritage Community of the Year Award was presented to Honesdale, represented by Sandi Levens and Kim Fisch of the Honesdale Partnership in Wayne County. Through the leadership of the Greater Honesdale Partnership, Honesdale lives their mission of working to promote, build, and invest in their community. The Downtown Honesdale Revitalization Plan is a comprehensive plan that focuses on enhancing the district’s walkability and attractiveness to both residents and visitors alike. Their efforts have created a more vibrant and attractive destination for shoppers, diners, and tourists, while also preserving its unique character and history. With numerous events such as Harvest & Heritage Days, Ghost Tours, and Winter Wonderland Parade, it’s easy to see why Honesdale was the inspiration for Dick Smith’s famous 1934 Christmas song “Winter Wonderland.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a person or agency who exemplifies outstanding leadership and advances the PA Route 6 Alliance mission through heritage development. The 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Melinda Meyer, Erie County. Melinda Meyer has worked with and served the heritage and arts communities of Northwestern Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. She is experienced as an historian, educator, project consultant, grant writer and nonprofit administrator. In 2011, she joined the all-volunteer team of Preservation Erie and has worked on several key initiatives, including development of the Erie County Cultural Heritage Plan and the Erie County Historic Resource Inventory update. She has also taught public history and historic preservation undergraduate courses at Mercyhurst University and is presently the Director of Programs, Grants, and Compliance for Impact Corry.
Alliance Executive Director, Candace Hillyard states, “We always look forward to these opportunities to share our organization’s accomplishments and celebrate the people and projects that help further our mission of supporting the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor. Events like these are also great opportunities to bring community leaders, business owners, and legislators together to network and exchange ideas about how to make our communities more vibrant and attractive to visitors and residents alike.”
The PA Route 6 Alliance, a 501(c3) corporation, was established in 2003 to manage the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor and to implement branding and marketing plans, community development programs and other planning efforts along the corridor. The Alliance includes representatives from all 11 counties, 9 convention and visitor bureaus, 4 heritage areas, local development districts, local business owners, Chambers of Commerce, and other interested parties along the corridor. The PA Route 6 Heritage Communities program is a program of PA Route 6 Alliance and PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor funded by the PA Heritage Area Program under the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. —End–