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NY Heritage Weekend will be celebrated with a photo contest and exhibit on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, at the Historic Mentz Church in Montezuma. Local photographer Glenn Gaston will give a slide show presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20, and talk on bald eagles of the area. Contest winners will be announced following the presentation. For more information, call 776-4656.

Local communities will help residents get back to their roots this weekend as part of a statewide push to promote history.

New York State Heritage Weekend, May 19 and 20, will bring several celebrations to local areas, including Skaneateles and Montezuma.

Laurie Winship, director of the Skaneateles Historical Society Creamery Museum, said an exhibit displayed at the Creamery will help bring the lake's therapeutic past to life.

"The Glen Haven Water Cure," a 19th century painting by Luthera Rogers Converse will be displayed starting this weekend.

"In the 1800s the Glen Haven Sanitarium was started on the south end of the lake, promoting hydropathy, which is the treating of diseases with water," Winship said. "Luthera Converse went into Glen Haven a very sick woman with tuberculosis and became an advocate for the water cure, because of how well it worked for her."

Converse's 29- by 49-inch oil painting was rediscovered in 1972 in the attic of a family farmhouse in Grand Rapids, Mich. In October 2007, Converse's ancestors brought the painting to West Lake Conservators in Skaneateles.

"We were very interested in the piece," Winship said. "It is such an important piece of the history of Skaneateles Lake."

The painting, as well as two quilts made by Converse, will be on display at the Creamery from May 19 to June 6.

At the Historic Mentz Church, the Heritage Weekend Celebration will include a local photography exhibit highlighting the area's numerous cultural and natural sites.

"We have invited local photographers to submit photos in two categories: historical sites and nature related scenes," said Cheryl Longyear, the Montezuma Town Historian. "We're asking that all the photographs be taken within a 10-mile radius of the town, which of course includes several historic areas along the old Erie Canal and the Montezuma Wildlife Preserve."

Longyear said so far about 10 photos were submitted, which she said is a good number for the restricted geography and the fact that it's the first year for the exhibit.

Local photographer Glenn Gaston is also scheduled to give a lecture on the bald eagles of the nearby wildlife refuge, featuring pictures he shot of the birds.

Last year, festivities at the historic church included an antique tractor parade and a display of farm implements.

Longyear said the state initiative helps connect local residents with the histories of their communities.

"It's New York's effort to encourage visitors in the area," she said. "It calls attention to the important sites that we have here."

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Staff writer Nathan Baker can be reached at 282-2238 or nathan.baker@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at CitizenBaker.

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