By Jocelyn Cook, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – From torrential downpours to building collapses, nothing could stop the spirit of Harborfest this year in Oswego.
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.
â€œThey always put on good shows,â€ she said.
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.
â€œIt normally ends up raining. And, the traffic is crazy,â€ 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.
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.
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.
â€œI love going to the fireworks,â€ she said. â€œI also like just walking around with friends and being with my friends.â€
McGinley agreed that the only big negative for the event this year was Mother Nature’s fickle ways.
â€œThe only thing I would want different is the weather. But no one has any control over that,â€ she pointed out.
â€œI don’t like that there aren’t enough spots to go to when the weather is bad,â€ she added.
â€œThe 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,â€ Lobb said.
The event, she explained, â€œis my favorite thing that Oswego does.â€
â€œEven if I moved far away, I would come back every year for Harborfest,â€ she said.
Harborfest Raffle Winners Announced
The annual Harborfest Raffle Jackpot this year was $7,277, according to Tom Van Schaack, executive director.
â€œThis year, we drew three winners to split the 50% of the proceeds. First place received 30% of the â€˜pot.â€™ Second place received 15% and third place received 5%,â€ he explained. â€œWe want to thank everyone who purchased a Harborfest Raffle ticket to help support our community event.â€
The winners are:
Nelson Hansen, Penn Yan ($2,183.10)
Ed and Linda McQueen, Oswego ($1,091.55)
Chuck Blum, Oswego ($363.85)
Shelby Schulze and Katherine Pecora didnâ€™t mind the pre-fireworks downpour.
â€œWeâ€™re just chillinâ€™ out a little bit waiting for the fireworks,â€ Shelby said.
â€œWe got bored sitting and waiting, so we decided go out in the rain and have some fun,â€ 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.
â€œWe got here at 4,â€ Sabrina said. â€œThis is our usual spot. We try to get here every Harborfest to see the fireworks.â€
â€œMy other kids are in the car with my husband. They couldnâ€™t handle it,â€ she laughed.
â€œItâ€™s been great. We had a great Thursday night with the Little River Band,â€ said Tom Van Schaack, the festivalâ€™s executive director. â€œKansas 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.â€
The rains may have dampened the spirits of some, but most people still found a way to enjoy the festival, he said.
â€œPeople make due with what they got; they have fun no matter where they are or what theyâ€™re doing,â€ he added.
The crowds were down a bit on Friday and Saturday due to the weather, according to John Scardella, president of the festivalâ€™s board.
â€œBut as soon as the rains stopped things picked right back up again. I think all the concerts have had really good crowds,â€ he said. â€œOn Friday, around 4 Oâ€™clock when the sun broke out, the crowd was as big as Iâ€™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 â€“ it turned out to be a very good crowd for the fireworks over there.â€
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.
â€œThey donâ€™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,â€ he said.
â€œOverall, I think weâ€™ve had a great festival. Weâ€™ve had a good festival, and weâ€™re going to build on the momentum and make sure people remember all the positives,â€ he added.
The board will meet next month to start talking about Harborfest 2011.
Steve Yablonski contributed information and photos to this report.