Annual Memorial Day Watchfire

Bridge Street

An event that truly embraces the meaning behind Memorial Day is taking place this Sunday at the New York State Fairgrounds. The annual Watchfire is the largest gathering of veterans in the entire state of New York on Memorial Day weekend. President of the Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 103 Gordy Lane as well as Dick Madden discuss the significance of this yearly event.

Watchfires date back to the ancient Roman Empire and historically have been used by military to meet up after a march or battle. A massive fire would be lit so even those lost would be able to find one another from miles away and it would burn for hours.


The fire is also a way to properly and respectfully retire unserviceable American flags. Flags can be dropped off in today or tomorrow (Friday & Saturday) or brought on the day of the event to be burned with honor.

The fire structure is assembled out of donated wood pallets, logs and other wooden objects and is being assembled today by volunteers.

Veterans and non-veterans are welcome to the Watchfire to honor those have served this Sunday, May 28th. There is no admission or parking fees to attend the event, but there will be food and drink vendors on location. Parking will be placed in the Brown lot of the fair grounds. The ceremony and lighting will take place at dusk, roughly around 8:00pm.

To get in contact with the Vietnam Veterans of America, they can be reached at (607) 546-7373 or you can visit their website at

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