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Erie Canal photo contest winners named

Posted 2 October 2018 at 10:30 am

Kyle Preston’s photo of “Winter’s Sunset” in Brockport won first place in the Along the Trail category in the annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Winning images will be featured in 2019 calendar. The winning shots didn’t include any sites in Orleans County.

Press Release, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

WATERFORD – Twelve images that capture the beauty and character of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor have been selected as winners of the 13th Annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Winning images will be featured in the 2019 Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor calendar, which will be available for free at libraries and visitor centers beginning in December.

Judges selected first, second and third place photographs in four contest categories from nearly 300 entries. In addition, twelve photographs received an honorable mention. Winning photos may be viewed at

Winning images span the entire length of the canal system from Hudson Falls on the Champlain Canal to Tonawanda at the western gateway to the Erie Canal.

“These outstanding images offer a snapshot of what makes this 500-mile ribbon of waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes a national treasure,” said Bob Radliff, Erie Canalway Executive Director. “We hope they inspire people to protect and celebrate our unparalleled canal heritage.”

The public is invited to pick up a free calendar at libraries and visitor centers beginning in December. Locations will be posted in November at: Funding support for the calendar comes from the New York State Canal Corporation and the National Park Service.

2019 Erie Canalway Photo Contest Winners

Classic Canal

1st Place, Mirror: Past and Present (Clay) by Suzanne Grosz, Webster, NY

2nd Place, Lyndon Road Footpath (Fairport) by Tracy Lyn Lause, Fairport, NY

3rd Place, Best Friends (Newark) by Mary E. Smith, Newark, NY

Canal Communities

1st Place, Fairport at Dawn (Fairport) by Tom Kredo, Rochester, NY

2nd Place, Sunset View of Tonawanda (Tonawanda) by Pierre Williot, Buffalo, NY

3rd Place, Morning Light (Lockport) by Robert Klick, Amherst, NY

Along the Trail

1st Place, Winter’s Sunset (Brockport) by Kyle Preston, Brockport, NY

2nd Place, Paddling the Waterford Locks (Waterford) by Stefanie Obkirchner, Amsterdam, NY

3rd Place, Richmond Aqueduct (Montezuma) by James Zeger, Sodus, NY

On the Water

1st Place, Westward Bound (Lockport) by Lee Williams, Lockport, NY

2nd Place, Sunset at the Marina (Ilion) by Cliff Oram, Ilion, NY

3rd Place, Misty Sunrise (Northumberland) by Susan Meyer, Schuylerville, NY

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‘Reimagine the Canals’ winners to be announced on Oct. 3

Photo by Tom Rivers: A boat passes along the Erie Canal in Albion on Tuesday.

Staff Reports Posted 20 September 2018 at 9:34 am

ROCHESTER – The caretakers of the Erie Canal will announce the winners of a $2.5 million global competition to transform the canal system for a new generation.

The State Canal Corporation and New York Power Authority, which oversees the canal system, on Oct. 3 will announce the winners of the “Reimagine the Canals” competition. The unveiling will be at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester.

There were 145 entries in the competition, which was narrowed to seven finalists in April. The competition sought new approaches for how to both use the canals as an engine for economic development and also to become a hub for tourism and recreation.

Each of the seven finalists received up to $50,000 to further develop their entries for the next stage.

The winners will receive between $250,000 and $1.5 million to plan and implement their projects.

The programs and initiatives are intended to promote the Canal System and its trails as a tourist destination and recreational asset for New York residents and visitors; sustainable economic development along the Canal System; the Canal System’s heritage; and the long-term financial sustainability of the Canal Corporation.

Additionally, the competition sought entries on two separate tracks, one for infrastructure; the other for programs that have the potential to increase recreation use and tourism.

The finalists are:

• Go the Distance: this initiative will look to develop overnight accommodations for recreational users of the canal system. The team includes the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor from Waterford, NY; Gray Slate Partners from Troy, NY; 2K Design from Clifton Park, NY and Dorgan Architecture & Planning from Storrs, Conn.

• Canal Winterlocks: seeks to develop winter-time uses for the Erie Canal, potentially including skating, hockey, winter festivals and cross-country skiing. The team includes Clare Lyster Urbanism and Architecture and John Ronan Architects, both from Chicago and Urban Engineers from Philadelphia.

• Great Erie Canal Race: a multi-day race for many types of watercraft, with a component for bikers and hikers. The team, led by Parks and Trails New York, includes Joe Gustainis from Caledonia, NY and Karthik Namasivayam from Pittsford, NY, as advisors.

• Intra-Works: installations of art and sculpture to forge a cultural identity that links up the Canal System. The team includes the architecture and planning firms Collective Studio from New York City and WRT and Interface, both from Philadelphia.

• Pocket Neighborhoods: a model for canal-side neighborhoods that have the Erie Canal as the core of their identity. The team includes the Madison County Planning Department and Stream Collaborative, an architecture firm in Ithaca.

• Western New York Irrigation: this plan will build off the canal’s water infrastructure to expand its irrigation capabilities. The team includes SUNY ESF Professor Stephen Shaw, C&S Companies of Syracuse and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

• Upstate Archipelago: this team is developing designs for resilient water landscapes that also provide public recreation space and wildlife habitat. The team includes Cornell Design, Ithaca; Cornell Cooperative Extension and H+N+S, a landscape architecture firm based in the Netherlands.

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Volunteers sought for shoreline cleanup on Saturday

Staff Reports Posted 13 September 2018 at 3:51 pm

The Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District is seeking volunteers its annual shoreline cleanup this Saturday.

Volunteers will collect and record the litter they pick up at nearby waterways. The volunteers are expected to head to the Widewaters of the Erie Canal near Knowlesville, the boat launch area at Lake Alice and the Dam area on the east side of Lake Alice.

Volunteers will convene at the south pavilion of Bullard Park in Albion at 9 a.m.

Contact the Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District at 585-589-5959 ext. 5 if you are interested in helping or if you have any questions.

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DEC says fishing in Lake Ontario has been ‘spectacular’

Posted 30 August 2018 at 2:21 pm

Catch rate for salmon is well above average, ‘best fishing in decades’

Press Release, DEC

Photo by Tom Rivers: Gary Bloom of Albion holds a 24-pound, 3-ounce Chinook salmon he caught during the Orleans County Fishing Derby, which ended on Aug. 19.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that fishing for trout and salmon in Lake Ontario has set records this year, with veteran anglers reporting some of the best fishing in decades.

“The New York waters of Lake Ontario provide a world-famous recreational fishery for trout and salmon, and fishing has been exceptional this summer,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Preliminary results from the Lake Ontario Fishing Boat Survey indicate that fishing for Chinook salmon has been outstanding along the entire New York shoreline.”

Fishing success is measured by “catch rate,” which is the number of fish caught per boat trip. The catch rate for Chinook salmon during April to June 2018 set a record that was 227 percent above the previous five-year average. The catch rate for all trout and salmon species combined also surpassed the previous record high, more than 37 percent above the previous five-year average.

Fishing for brown trout and coho salmon has also been excellent in 2018, with catch rates 38 and 21 percent higher than their respective, previous five-year averages. Atlantic salmon represent a relatively small portion of the Lake Ontario fishery but catch rates for Atlantic salmon were 73 percent above the previous five-year average.

“This is the second year in a row that the take of Chinook has been above average at Oswego, as reported by Council members,” said Chuck Parker, president of the New York State Conservation Council. “There are so many variables that can and do affect the quality of the fishing opportunities we have. We at the NYSCC recognize that the science-based management practices of the DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries are an integral force in sustaining the New York’s world class Lake Ontario fishery.”

Captain Vince Pierleoni of Olcott said, “It’s the best Chinook fishing I’ve seen since 1989.”

Captain Bob Songin of Pt. Breeze said, “The fishing out of Wilson Harbor to the Niagara River has been spectacular, with many Chinook and coho salmon hitting as well as the occasional lake trout mixed in.”

Fishing for Chinook salmon and brown trout has also been great in Eastern Lake Ontario with large numbers of fish caught all along the shoreline. Oswego produced a 28.1-pound Chinook salmon that won the grand prize in the Spring Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby.

Lake Ontario is consistently ranked among the top fishing destinations in the country by national publications. Lake Ontario and its embayments and tributaries comprise more than 2.7 million acres and support thriving populations of fish, including a variety of trout, salmon, bass, walleye, yellow perch, and panfish.

A recent statewide angler survey estimated that more than 2.6 million angler days were spent on Lake Ontario and major tributaries. The estimated value of these fisheries exceeded $112 million annually to local economies.

DEC encourages anglers to head out on Lake Ontario and experience some of the best trout and salmon fishing in the U.S. Additional information about fishing Lake Ontario can be found on DEC’s website.

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Public urged to attend meeting on Aug. 30 for waterfront revitalization in 3 Orleans towns

Posted 21 August 2018 at 10:14 am

Press Release, Orleans County Department of Planning and Development

Photo by Tom Rivers: A boater passes through the channel at Oak Orchard Harbor at Point Breeze in this photo from May 28, 2015.

CARLTON – To effectively plan for the Orleans County waterfront, a public forum will be held as part of the process for amending the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). The towns of Kendall, Carlton and Yates, along with the Village of Lyndonville welcome residents, landowners, and other interested parties to attend this event on Aug. 30 to offer their input on recommendations for waterfront improvements.

The public information meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Carlton Fire Company Recreation Hall on 1813 Oak Orchard Road (Route 98). Doors will be opened 30 minutes early at to allow the public time to review maps of existing conditions for the area.

The purpose of the meeting is twofold. It is educational to briefly explain the objectives of an LWRP program, as it has been many years since it was first adopted; it is also about obtaining ideas from the public for improving the Lake Ontario and creek corridor waterfronts.

Having an LWRP enables waterfront communities to evaluate land use and waterfront resources and develop a comprehensive strategy to effectively manage and protect those resources. Planned improvements are the means for getting this done. By applying a local focus on land use management, along with the maintenance, improvement and enhancement of important resources and features in the waterfront area, an LWRP strengthens existing state programming and provides the participating communities with a road map to guide growth and recognize opportunities.

It also provides more local control over decisions made along its waterfront. The goal is to develop an update to the existing local program that properly manages land use and future development along the waterfront, effectively protects important coastal resources and recognizes opportunities for public improvements.

The Orleans County Department of Planning and Development was awarded a state grant for amendment of the LWRP. The county entered into a contract for the provision of professional services with Wendel and WWS Planning in April2017, to assist with the project.

The project team has been working with a community-based steering group – the Waterfront Advisory Committee – to collect and review information on existing waterfront conditions, including land use and community character; economic development; public access and recreation; flooding and erosion; historic preservation; scenic and environmental resources; and water quality. These efforts were supplemented by public comments gathered at an information meeting that was held in April of this year. To complement the information, the Waterfront Advisory Committee is asking local citizens to assist in identifying important issues, opportunities, desires and concerns to help establish a clear vision for the waterfront.

Comments will be accepted electronically for those who cannot attend by clicking here. Comments will also be accepted on the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development’s webpage.

For additional information on these meetings or the LWRP project, contact Ellen Parker, Wendel, (716) 688-0766. You may also contact the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development at (585) 589-3189 (Director Jim Bensley) or (585) 589-3187 (Planner Sarah Gatti).

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Nearly 30-pound salmon wins Orleans County Fishing Derby

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kent Morgan, owner of Let It Ride Charters in Carlton, holds the grand prize fish, a 29-pound, 14-ounce salmon caught by his customer, Joseph Miller of Harrisburg, Pa. The big fish won the $4,000 grand prize.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 August 2018 at 8:24 pm

CARLTON – The Orleans County Fishing Derby concluded today after 16 days with a nearly 30-pound salmon taking the top prize, $4,000.

The derby has been an annual event for about 35 years. There were almost 400 participants in the competition, which is sponsored by the Albion Rotary Club.

The grand prize fish – 29 pounds, 14 ounces – was caught by Joseph Miller of Harrisburg, Pa. He was on a charter boat owned by Kent Morgan, who has been a local charter captain for 18 years.

Besides $4,000 for the biggest fish, the four division leaders – salmon, rainbow trout/steelhead, lake trout and brown trout – each get $500, followed by $300 for second, $200 for third, $100 for fourth and $50 for fifth.

Division first -place winners ($500 each)

• Salmon – 26 pounds, 14 ounces by Mike Schaeffer of Silgo, Pa.

• Rainbow/steelhead – 12 pounds, 2 ounces by Glenn Weber of Harrisburg, Pa.

• Brown trout – 14 pounds, 13 ounces by Michael Grager of Lyndonville

• Lake trout – 17 pounds, 12 ounces by Brian Gambell of Hilton

Brian Gambell of Hilton holds the first place lake trout at 17 pounds, 12 ounces.

Michael Grager of Lyndonville holds the first place brown trout at 14 pounds, 13 ounces. Grager is the charter boat captain of “Get Hooked” based at Point Breeze. He noticed the leaderboard didn’t have many brown trout more than midway through he derby so he made a concerted effort to catch them. In the beginning of the derby he thinks most anglers are focused on catching big salmon. He used a spoon in shallow water just east of the Point to catch the first place brown trout.

Dane Ballard, 14, of Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland holds a 26-pound, 3-ounce salmon he caught with his grandfather, Denny Jackson of Ogdensburg, Pa. The fish was the second place salmon in the derby.

The first place winner for steelhead also was on Morgan’s boat, Let It Ride Charters. Kent Morgan holds the fish with his first mate, Jack Rossman. Glenn Weber of Harrisburg, Pa., caught the 12-pound, 2-ounce fish which won first place.

Mike Waterhouse, retired sports fishing promotion coordinator for Orleans County, served as the emcee of the awards program at the Carlton Recreation Hall.

Becky Karls, left, sold raffle tickets and Marlee Diehl, back right, handed out prizes. About 75 people attended the awards program.

Bill Downey, chairman of the derby, also distributed some of the prizes at the awards event. Many local businesses donated for the event.

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Aug. 31 is deadline for Erie Canal photo contest

Posted 9 August 2018 at 9:10 pm

Press Release, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

Photo by Tom Rivers: Icicles are pictured hanging inside the Canal Culvert in Ridgeway on Dec. 12, 2017. The Canal Culvert is one of Orleans County’s best-known landmarks.

WATERFORD – Amateur and professional photographers are invited submit images for the 13th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Entries must be postmarked by August 31.

Images should convey the wealth of things to do and see along the waterway and express the unique character of the canal and canal communities. Winning photos will be featured in the 2019 Erie Canalway calendar.

Images will be judged in four contest categories: On the Water, Along the Trail, Canal Communities, and Classic Canal.

Judges will select first, second, and third place winning images in each category, as well as 12 honorable mentions.

Images must be taken within the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, which spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York. It encompasses the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more than 230 canal communities.

Download official contest rules and an entry form by clicking here.

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US Senate includes $11 million to protect Great Lakes from Asian carp

Posted 9 August 2018 at 1:12 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: A kayaker paddles on Lake Ontario off the shore of Barker on Saturday evening.

Press Release, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the Interior Appropriations bill that just passed the Senate includes $11 million in federal funding to help protect the Great Lakes from the threat of Asian carp.

The funding would be provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices and would be used to control Asian carp in the Mississippi and Ohio River Basins to prevent them from entering the Great Lakes.

“The invasive and destructive Asian carp are no friend of the Great Lakes, and we need to do all we can to keep them out and protect our wildlife and Great Lakes,” said Senator Schumer. “Asian carp create a tremendous burden on any ecosystem they invade, and I’m glad to see funding moving forward to keep our waterways safe and habitable for New York’s wildlife. I vow to keep fighting for this funding until it is signed into law, to protect the precious resources that are our Great Lakes.”

“The Great Lakes are some of New York’s most precious natural resources, and we need to do everything possible to protect them against the imminent threat of Asian carp,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “I fought for this critical funding to be included in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill so that we can help keep New York’s waterways and natural habitats free from this invasive species, and I am pleased to announce that we are one step closer to getting this funding signed into law.”

The economy and the ecosystem of the entire Great Lakes region are at risk because of the imminent threat of invasive Asian carp. Current efforts to control the spread of Asian carp are located in the Chicago and Ohio River Basins, where the Mississippi River Basin links to the Great Lakes.

Asian carp are large, prolific, invasive species that can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow up to four feet long. They consume vast amounts of food, disrupting the food chain that supports native fish. This aggressive invasive species could devastate the Great Lakes ecosystems, which provide drinking water to over 30 million Americans, support a $7 billion fishing industry and a $15.5 billion boating industry, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Schumer and Gillibrand helped secure the $11 million in federal funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices in the Senate’s recently passed Interior Appropriations bill. Earlier this year, Gillibrand pushed for this funding, and last month, Gillibrand also announced the reintroduction of the bipartisan Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act, legislation that would protect New York’s natural resources from invasive species by giving the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) greater authority to regulate nonnative species and prohibit them from being imported or sold in the United States.

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DEC announces 2018-19 hunting and trapping licenses now on sale

Posted 7 August 2018 at 12:42 pm

Press Release, DEC

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that sporting licenses and Deer Management Permits for the 2018-19 season are now on sale.

Licenses and permits can be purchased at any one of DEC’s license-issuing agents, by telephone (866-933-2257), or online at the DECALS website. The hunting and trapping licenses are valid from Sept. 1, 2018, through Aug. 31, 2019. (In Orleans County, most of the local town halls sell the licenses, as well as the Albion Walmart, Narby’s Superette & Tackle in Carlton and Orleans Outdoor in Albion.)

“New York’s vast landscape offers dozens of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and participate in the proud traditions of hunting and trapping,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Governor Cuomo continues to prioritize investing in new lands and improving access for outdoor recreation. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of public land open to hunting and trapping across the state. Long seasons, liberal bag limits, and healthy wildlife populations make for great hunting and trapping experiences.”

Through the purchase of sporting licenses, arms and ammunition, and trip-related expenditures, New York’s nearly 600,000 licensed hunters contribute an estimated $1.5 billion to the state’s economy each year.

Expanded Call Center Hours

Through Oct. 1, the DEC Call Center is accessible from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Regular call center weekday hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) will resume on Oct. 2.

Individuals should have the following items ready when buying a license:

• Complete contact information (e.g. name, address, email address, telephone number);

• DEC customer ID number (if applicable);

• Proof of residency (e.g., driver’s license or non-driver’s ID with a valid NYS address) and;

• If purchasing by phone or internet, a valid credit card.

• If not already entered in DEC’s automated licensing system, individuals are required to provide proof of hunter or trapper education certification or a copy of a previous license for all hunting and trapping license purchases. For additional information, visit the General Sporting License Information webpage on DEC’s website.

Habitat & Access Stamps

New York’s habitat serves a vital role in maintaining healthy and sustainable fish and wildlife resources for all to enjoy. DEC encourages all outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a voluntary Habitat & Access Stamp each year. Funds from the $5 Habitat & Access Stamp help fund projects aimed at conserving habitat and improving public access for fish and wildlife-related activities. This year’s promotion features a barred owl.

“Habitat & Access Stamps support important projects around the state, so we are ramping up efforts to promote their purchase and have set a target to sell 25,000 stamps for the 2018 and 2019 seasons,” Seggos said. “Please consider being a ‘Habitat Hero’ through the purchase of a Habitat & Access stamp.”

Deer Management Permits

In addition, Deer Management Permits (DMPs) are now available at all license-issuing outlets, by phone, or online through Oct. 1. DMPs, which are used to ensure proper management of the deer herd, are issued through an instant random selection process at the point of sale. The chances of obtaining a DMP remain the same throughout the entire application period; hunters do not need to rush to apply. The 2018 chances of selection for a permit in each Wildlife Management Unit are available online, through License Issuing Agents, or by calling the DMP Hotline at 1-866-472-4332. Detailed information on Deer Management Permits is available on DEC’s website.

The new Hunting & Trapping Regulations Guide provides an easy-to-read compendium of all pertinent rules and regulations and is available at all license issuing outlets and on the DEC Hunting Regulations webpage. For a list of license-issuing agents, visit DEC’s online License Center or contact the DEC Call Center at 1-866-933-2257.

Venison Donation Program

Anyone-not just hunters and anglers-can help feed the hungry by making a monetary contribution to the Venison Donation Program at any license-issuing outlet. Individuals should inform the license sales agent if interested in making a donation of $1 or more to support the program. Since 1999, these funds have been used by the Venison Donation Coalition to process more than 330 tons of highly nutritious venison, the equivalent of 2.8 million meals served. For more information about the Venison Donation Coalition program, click here.

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26-pound salmon leads Orleans County Fishing Derby

Photo by Tom Rivers: A kayaker passes along Lake Ontario in Barker while the sun sets Saturday evening.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 August 2018 at 12:12 pm

$8,800 in prizes up for grabs in derby, which continues until Aug. 19

The Orleans County Fishing Derby started on Saturday and several big salmon were reeled in and landed on the leaderboard.

A 26-pound, 3-ounce Chinook leads for the $4,000 grand prize. It was caught by Dane Ballard of Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.

There are four divisions in the derby – Salmon, Rainbow Trout/Steelhead, Brown Trout, and Lake Trout.

The top prizes for each division include $500 for first, followed by $300 for second, $200 for third, $100 for fourth and $50 for fifth.

No fish have been entered yet for three of the divisions.

Only salmon have fish on the leaderboard and they include 1st, 24 pounds, 13 ounces by Tom Riley of West Henrietta; 2nd, 24 pounds, 3 ounces by Gary Bloom of Albion; 3rd, 22 pounds, 10 ounces by Sheila Frank of Rochester; 4th, 22 pounds, 9 ounces by David Bonnell of Rochester; and 5th, 22 pounds, 9 ounces by Mike Schaeffer of Sligo, Pa.

Gary Bloom also is in the lead for the $200 bonus prize for biggest fish caught by an Orleans County resident.

The derby continues until Aug. 19. The Albion Rotary Club sponsors the annual event.

For more information on the derby, click here.

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