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Harborfest 2010 A Big Hit With Fest-goers

By Jocelyn Cook, Contributing Writer

OSWEGO, NY – From torrential downpours to building collapses, nothing could stop the spirit of Harborfest this year in Oswego.

Sabrina Hefti of Pulaski holds her daughter, Grace, on her lap and her other daughter, Arabela, sits next to them outside of Fort Ontario overlooking the Oswego Harbor as they wait for the start of the fireworks.
Sabrina Hefti of Pulaski holds her daughter, Grace, on her lap and her other daughter, Arabela, sits next to them outside of Fort Ontario overlooking the Oswego Harbor as they wait for the start of the fireworks.

Despite the fact that it was a very wet weekend, the festival went on as planned and only a few events were impacted by the weather.

For the most part, fest-goers still enjoyed themselves and the usual staples of Harborfest were still present, from the food to the rides to the famous fireworks that always leave the crowd in high spirits.

Anna Lobb, Minetto, is an annual attendee of the festivities, and nothing, she said, could keep her away from her usual activities.

She loves the fireworks and the many concerts put on at various venues at the festival.

“They always put on good shows,” she said.

Some of the youngest festival attendees enjoy a ride on the Midway on Saturday.
Some of the youngest festival attendees enjoy a ride on the Midway on Saturday.

Lobb mostly had good things to say about this year’s Harborfest. But, she did say her impression of this year’s event was unfortunately affected by the weather.

“It normally ends up raining. And, the traffic is crazy,” she added as another negative of the event.

However, visitors seemed to make the most of their time at the festival.

The crowds were usually fairly large regardless of what the weather decided to do.

How do you top off a weekend of great entertainment? With a world-class fireworks display!
How do you top off a weekend of great entertainment? With a world-class fireworks display!

There were plenty of people on the Midway, enjoying the rides and sampling both food and fun at the different food vendors and numerous carnival games.

And the assorted concerts weren’t the only shows to take in at Harborfest this year.

The Disc-Connected K-9’s show, a crowd favorite, was fun for everyone in attendance.

Lawrence Frederick, director of the event and a handler in the show, got the audience excited for the show and then put on quite the display for the crowd.

Kids and adults alike delighted in the talented and spirited canines, who seemed to have just as much fun as the audience members they were amusing.

Attempting to see everything in just one day can tire out even the most seasoned Harborfesters.
Attempting to see everything in just one day can tire out even the most seasoned Harborfesters.

All in all, there was plenty to do at this year’s Harborfest for everyone who made the trip to Oswego.

Cassie McGinley, of Palermo, is another regular of the festival, and had plenty of positives of her own to add about the event.

“I love going to the fireworks,” she said. “I also like just walking around with friends and being with my friends.”

McGinley agreed that the only big negative for the event this year was Mother Nature’s fickle ways.

“The only thing I would want different is the weather. But no one has any control over that,” she pointed out.

“I don’t like that there aren’t enough spots to go to when the weather is bad,” she added.

Flash, Frisbee dog champion, is more than ready to show off her skills to the crowd. Here she snatches a Frisbee, completing one of many tricks she performed at the show.
Flash, Frisbee dog champion, is more than ready to show off her skills to the crowd. Here she snatches a Frisbee, completing one of many tricks she performed at the show.

“The whole town comes together for four days and you are able to see pretty much everyone you have ever known in one place every year,” Lobb said.

The event, she explained, “is my favorite thing that Oswego does.”

“Even if I moved far away, I would come back every year for Harborfest,” she said.

Harborfest Raffle Winners Announced

The annual Harborfest Raffle Jackpot this year was $7,277, according to Tom Van Schaack, executive director.

“This year, we drew three winners to split the 50% of the proceeds. First place received 30% of the ‘pot.’ Second place received 15% and third place received 5%,” he explained. “We want to thank everyone who purchased a Harborfest Raffle ticket to help support our community event.”

The winners are:

Nelson Hansen, Penn Yan ($2,183.10)
Ed and Linda McQueen, Oswego ($1,091.55)
Chuck Blum, Oswego ($363.85)

During the Children’s Parade, youngsters were all decked out in their berets and hand-made T-shirts to celebrate the cultural component of Harborfest 2010 – France.
During the Children’s Parade, youngsters were all decked out in their berets and hand-made T-shirts to celebrate the cultural component of Harborfest 2010 – France.

Shelby Schulze and Katherine Pecora didn’t mind the pre-fireworks downpour.

“We’re just chillin’ out a little bit waiting for the fireworks,” Shelby said.

“We got bored sitting and waiting, so we decided go out in the rain and have some fun,” Katherine added

Sabrina Hefti of Pulaski held her daughter, Grace, on her lap and her other daughter, Arabela, sat next to them outside of Fort Ontario overlooking the Oswego Harbor.

A huge umbrella protected them from the rain.

Daniel Callen follows through as he returns a serve at a tennis match at the end of the Children’s Parade.
Daniel Callen follows through as he returns a serve at a tennis match at the end of the Children’s Parade.

“We got here at 4,” Sabrina said. “This is our usual spot. We try to get here every Harborfest to see the fireworks.”

“My other kids are in the car with my husband. They couldn’t handle it,” she laughed.

“It’s been great. We had a great Thursday night with the Little River Band,” said Tom Van Schaack, the festival’s executive director. “Kansas put on a great show Friday night. I had a lot of people complement both bands on how they performed. And, we got the fireworks off on Saturday and Sunday was a perfect day. So, hopefully everybody enjoyed themselves.”

Maria Sweet, 9 months, gets a “Tour De France” ride from her father, Nate, during the Children’s Parade.
Maria Sweet, 9 months, gets a “Tour De France” ride from her father, Nate, during the Children’s Parade.

The rains may have dampened the spirits of some, but most people still found a way to enjoy the festival, he said.

“People make due with what they got; they have fun no matter where they are or what they’re doing,” he added.

The crowds were down a bit on Friday and Saturday due to the weather, according to John Scardella, president of the festival’s board.

“But as soon as the rains stopped things picked right back up again. I think all the concerts have had really good crowds,” he said. “On Friday, around 4 O’clock when the sun broke out, the crowd was as big as I’ve ever seen it. The crowd was good in Breitbeck Park (Saturday) right until it started raining. Around 20 minutes to 9 on Saturday, it was like people just started coming right out of the ground – it turned out to be a very good crowd for the fireworks over there.”

Jack Beckwith buys a Harborfest 50/50 raffle ticket from volunteer Trinity Stupp.
Jack Beckwith buys a Harborfest 50/50 raffle ticket from volunteer Trinity Stupp.

The Gruccis did the best they could with the fireworks, given the conditions that they were handed, Scardella noted. They even paused the show to allow the smoke to clear, he added.

“They don’t want to put on a bad show. They were so gracious and they did everything they could to make sure the show went off as scheduled and was a good as it could possibly be,” he said.

“Overall, I think we’ve had a great festival. We’ve had a good festival, and we’re going to build on the momentum and make sure people remember all the positives,” he added.

The board will meet next month to start talking about Harborfest 2011.

Steve Yablonski contributed information and photos to this report.

Matthew Metott blows up a red balloon in preparation for the start of the Children’s Parade.
Matthew Metott blows up a red balloon in preparation for the start of the Children’s Parade.
Food, fun and friends are all a part of the Harborfest experience.
Food, fun and friends are all a part of the Harborfest experience.
Shelby Schulze and Katherine Pecora chill out in the rain showers prior to the fireworks.
Shelby Schulze and Katherine Pecora chill out in the rain showers prior to the fireworks.