Hawk’s Nest section of the Upper Delaware Scenic BywayMillersburg, OH – The National Scenic Byway Foundation (NSBF) congratulates the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway of New York State as a 2024 Byway Partnership Award winner. This is one of the Foundation’s eight national awards presented annually.

Ten days full of history, music, food, fish, and fun were the focus of the “Festival of the Founding Fish” held throughout the communities of the New York State Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB) May 19-28, 2023. The volunteer UDSB Committee joined forces with history preservation non-profit The Delaware Company, the Sullivan County Legislature, Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association, National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, media sponsors, businesses, and community organizers to make the event possible.

Festival of the Founding Fish activities center on the migratory American shad, which plays an important role in Delaware River history, dating back to the 1600s, sustaining the Colonial army though the winter under General George Washington, and rebounding as a spawning species after a population plummet in the 2000s. The 2nd annual Upper Delaware Shad Fest added a Shad Bus Run to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the byway’s designation. The popular roundtrip tour from one end (City of Port Jervis) to the other (Village of Hancock) along NYS Route 97 featured fascinating narration by Sullivan County Historian John Conway and stops to partake in local celebrations, educational programs, treats and libations.

 “We are immensely proud of the collaborative effort and community engagement demonstrated by the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. The Shadfest not only celebrates the rich heritage and scenic beauty of the area, but also fosters a strong sense of community and cooperation among the various stakeholders involved,” said Richard H. Lowe, III, UDSB chairperson. “This award underscores the importance of partnership and collaboration whilst preserving and promoting the scenic, historic, and cultural values that our scenic byway offers to the public.”

John Pizzolato, the current Town of Highland Supervisor who coordinated the 2022 and 2023 shad festivals as UDSB’s program manager, will attend the NSBF’s Colorado Byways Symposium to be held along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic & Historic Byway on May 1-4 to accept the prestigious award on behalf of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway.

The vision for the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway is to highlight what is already an exceptional feature of the region’s appeal to residents and visitors alike – the highway itself. The most significant and attractive aspects of the byway are its spectacular scenic highway vistas, access to the Delaware River and its resources, and the uniqueness of the communities along the byway. Organized events such as the Festival of the Founding Fish contribute to the river valley’s economy through careful promotion of the byway, its unique stories, and its treasured existing resources. The visitor has a positive experience because of the hospitality of residents and availability of services. As stated in an article headlined “Shadfest shares love for Founding Fish” in the Sullivan County Democrat newspaper: “Lures are best for reeling in fish, but festivals are best for reeling in people.” Its enjoyable activities provide the opportunity to inform, educate, build community support, and foster stewardship.

The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway traverses New York State’s western border along a 70-mile stretch of the Delaware River, connecting the rafting and bluestone Village of Hancock in Delaware County, through six Sullivan County towns, to the railroad City of Port Jervis in Orange County. It provides a leisurely link between State Rt. 17 and I-84 along NYS Route 97 with alluring historic, natural, scenic, recreational, and cultural features that tempt motorists to explore and experience the Upper Delaware River Valley. For additional information about the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway in New York visit www.upperdelawarescenicbyway.org or www.TravelByways.com.

The National Scenic Byway Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving as The National Voice of Scenic Byways and Roads, dedicated to strengthening Byways through education, training and shared expertise. It is the vision of the National Scenic Byway Foundation that our nation’s designated Byways will be recognized and valued worldwide for their distinctive experiences, stories, and treasured places. For more information visit  www.nsbfoundation.com; www.travelbyways.com; or email: info@nsbfoundation.com.


Photo: The Hawk’s Nest section of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway on New York State Route 97 in the Orange County Town of Deerpark offers spectacular views of the nationally designated Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River some 200 feet below the winding road hanging on the hillside.