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Sackets Harbor tourism rates up in 2012, linked to the War of 1812 bicentennial

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SACKETS HARBOR — The village saw more visitors in 2012, coinciding with several War of 1812 bicentennial celebrations.

So far this year, the village’s visitors center has seen approximately 8,500 people, surpassing the 7,920 who stopped by the center in 2011.

“I think it’s been a very good year,” said Gail S. Gorgen, manager of the center. “I think Sackets is really coming up with some great things to draw people here.”

The visitor numbers at the center are similar to those in 2010, when about 9,500 people stopped at the center, coinciding with a busy summer that included the village hosting the annual North American War of 1812 Grand Tactical re-enactment, an event that drew several thousand visitors and participants.

The village served as a center of military and shipbuilding activity for American forces on Lake Ontario during the war.

Constance B. Barone, Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site manager, said the site had a few thousand more visitors and a few thousand more dollars in gift shop sales this year compared with 2011, but she did not have specific figures available Monday.

She said events such as a groundbreaking for a memorial to British and Canadian forces killed during the Second Battle of Sackets Harbor helped draw new crowds this summer.

The bicentennial also was tied into events such as a challenge for competitors of the Fireball Run and the tour of an 1860s-era lake schooner.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center in the village also had an increased number of visitors for the year. For example, the center has seen 18 bus tours this year — three times as many as the year before.

Michael P. Bristol, president and CEO of the trail group, said he was impressed to see “how busy they were for the whole day for two straight months.”

The group also had a 45 percent increase in participation at its annual quilt show from 2011, bringing in quilters from 18 states and across Canada. As a result of the show’s popularity this year, it will be expanded to two weekends in March.

Mr. Bristol, who took over the position in early July, said he anticipates interest in the war and the village’s place in it will carry for a few years.

Peter B. Bryant, who serves as economic development coordinator for the village, the town of Hounsfield and the village Chamber of Commerce, said the village had a strong summer from a tourism standpoint. In addition to the bicentennial-connected events, Mr. Bryant said, the village benefited from annual events such as the 1812 Shootout lacrosse tournament and the Made in New York festival.

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