Friends of the Keuka Outlet Celebrates 40th Anniversary


Last year it was Yates County’s turn to celebrate a big 200 year anniversary. This year it is the Friends of the Outlet, Inc. (FOTO) who are celebrating! And though it is only our 40th Anniversary, we have much to recognize, honor, celebrate, and enjoy! 

Coming up quickly is the Celebrate Service Celebrate Yates community painting project on Sunday, April 21, 2024 from 1:30 - 4:30PM. The multi-year effort continues to transform Cascade Falls from a historic mill site, to then an unsafe industrial site, and finally to another dynamic picnic area and destination along the 7.2 mile Keuka Outlet Trail that runs from Penn Yan to Dresden, NY.

For the past six years, FOTO has worked with multiple organizations and many volunteers to remove the dilapidated remnants of the J.T. Baker and Taylor Chemical Co., and open up the waterway to thousands of visitors each year who enjoy experiencing the trail on foot, bike, skis, horse, from a stroller or the end of a long leash. The remaining three buildings at Cascade are now an active hub for the FOTO organization from which equipment and supplies are stored, events are organized and managed, and various meetings are held – mostly in the summer months. Registered to be part of the Celebrate Service Celebrate Yates initiative, the PAINT CASCADE project on April 21 will see the three buildings at Cascade receive a fresh, or in some cases, a first coat of paint to better reflect the importance of these facilities. We also hope to be preparing for a potential community mural project. Stay tuned on that!     

Anyone interested in volunteering for this project (or others!), should email Allison Stuart, a member of FOTO Board of Directors at this address: 

A second big event early this year for FOTO’s 40th Anniversary comes shortly thereafter on Saturday, May 4, 2024 from 12-2:00PM when friends, new and old, and of all ages will gather at the new Hopeton Campground located up a small hill and one half mile east of the Hopeton Access Point and Parking Area. The two-hour program will feature activities for the whole family including the specially developed KOT 20 Questions & Scavenger Hunt, introduction to the new registration webpage, and an outdoor education demonstration about safe campfire building and avoiding poison ivy by knowing how to identify it. The very first Hopeton Campsite campers will be scouts from Troop #444 - Penn Yan under the leadership of  Diane Trickey-Morse and Judson Reid. The Ribbon Cutting event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served. Ride sharing, or better - hiking in, is strongly encouraged. 

“The campground project officially started 23 years ago! In 2000, Phil Whitman applied for and received a NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation grant to purchase Morrie’s Mountain, and one day, make it into a primitive campground,” Keith Prather, FOTO President recalled. “The campground site was originally a figure-eight go-cart track in the 1950s and 60s. But today, we are pleased to have converted the old track into a rough ring road for the camping area.” 

Twenty years later, another grant from the 2022 Yates County TAC fund provided the funds to purchase the materials to build one (1) lean-to and four (4) tent platforms plus provide multiple picnic tables and fire rings. There is one shared porta-potty, but no running water or electricity. Hopeton Campground is not designed for RVs or pop-up campers, or any other motorized camping equipment such as generators. The exact street address is 1025 Hopeton Road, and a sign marks the newly milled, dirt driveway with guard rails for protection. All four campsites are accessible for those with limited mobility.  

The new campsite reservation webpage will soon be introduced on There is no charge to use the campground, but all campers are encouraged to become members of the organization or make a market value contribution of $12 per night per tent. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 7:00PM - Annual FOTO Meeting 

Lyons National Bank, 205 Liberty Street, Penn Yan, NY 14527 (use back entrance) 

While ribbon cutting ceremonies and community painting projects are excellent events to add to your calendar, just as important are the monthly meetings for both the FOTO Board of Directors and Maintenance Team. The general public is always welcome at the monthly meetings, but the Annual April meeting is especially important to introduce new members of the organization, and thank any volunteer board members who are rotating off the Board of Directors. 

This year, five members of the Board of Directors are expected to be rotating off, and it is hoped an equal number of new directors will be rotating on. Generally, the FOTO Board of Directors meets every third Wednesday evening of the month at the LNB Community Room. The next meeting is Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 7:00PM. Nominations for new board members are critically important and will be accepted right up until the Annual Meeting on April 17. 

The FOTO Maintenance Team generally meets on the last Wednesday of each month on the second floor of the Penn Yan Fire Department, 125 Elm Street at 7:00PM.  

Another event we hope everyone adds to their 2024 calendars is the 4th Annual Celebrate Cascade on Saturday, September 21 - the last day of summer. Plans for this event are in development. We encourage other community groups to consider planning an event that might tie into the 40th Anniversary. In addition, look for the FOTO tent at the annual Keuka Arts Festival, June 8-9, 2024 located on the Penn Yan portion of the KOT! And if your community group wants to participate in a mural design, do a poetry reading, bird walk, owl prowl, or host any other kind of event, remember we have two pavilions available. (Rental fees for private events are very reasonable.)

“If there is an organization that is more interesting, fun and dynamic to support in this community, I want to know what it is!,” Prather exclaimed. “I doubt you’ll find any group more energetic or vibrant than the Friends of the Outlet. And no matter your age, or your expertise, or your outdoor interests, your voice and enthusiasm will be welcomed. We would love it if some horse riders would join the board someday, or maybe a marathon runner, or an archeologist, or budding geologist, or whatever gets you excited when you are on the Keuka Outlet Trail! Please, just join us in some capacity.”     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *