Pittsford, N.Y. -
2017 World Canals Conference
will be held in Syracuse, N.Y. on September 24-28, 2017. The annual conference is held in different locations across the world - and this year is honoring the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal by coming to the Finger Lakes region. The theme, "Our Vital Waterways: Agents of Transformation," pays tribute to the impact that the canal had on New York State.
The five-day conference will include educational seminars and world-class speakers, as well as tours and public events. Kayaking, live hot glass shows on the Corning Museum of Glass' GlassBarge, rowing on a traditional six-oar long boat, and a cycle to the Inner Harbor with "Tour the Towpath" are options that will be open to the public on the first day of the conference, Sunday, Sept. 24 from 1-6 p.m. Tickets are available for the full conference or for a single day of attendance, with discounts for students.
Last year, the World Canals Conference was held in Inverness, Scotland. Its migration to the Finger Lakes Region is no surprise to tourism professionals in the area, as the region is home to a rich history when it comes to the famous waterway - which was first dreamed up in Ontario County's debtor prison, located in Canandaigua, N.Y.
A local man named Jesse Hawley wrote to Governor Dewitt Clinton while in the prison and suggested the idea of a water canal to transport goods across the state. His writings become influential in developing the Erie Canal waterway system - which originally stretched from Albany to Buffalo.
The Erie Canal is credited for making New York the Empire State, for making New York City what it is today and creating upstate New York Cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Syracuse. Every major city in New York falls along the trade route established by the Erie Canal. Nearly 80 percent of upstate New York's population lives within 25 miles of the Canal.
While the Erie Canal runs East to West, the impact of the waterway is felt region wide, both through connectors like the Cayuga-Seneca Canal - a 20-mile branch of the main Erie Canal system - and through museums and landmarks within the region. Notable stops for canal enthusiasts - both attending the conference or just visiting the area - include attractions like the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, N.Y. and the Erie Canal Heritage Park at Port Byron, N.Y. The region also offers opportunities for enthusiasts to hike, bike, kayak, fish, cruise, and paddle along the canal during the warmer months.
"The Canal had such outstanding impacts on the American way of life and even changed the course of history," said Visit Syracuse Interim President and Vice President of Marketing Carol Eaton. "That's why when Visit Syracuse helped to bid on the World Canals Conference, we knew it would be the perfect event to help us celebrate the bicentennial anniversary with the world."