By Joleene DesRosiers Moody, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO – Where do I begin? When asked if I could cover Harborfest for this fine, online, publication, I jumped at the opportunity.
Why not? It’s the festival’s 25th year. That’s a big deal, right?
And who doesn’t enjoy a festival like atmosphere with a gyro in one hand, a cold drink in the other and rockin’ music on the side?
I don’t get out much, so I was eager to begin my adventure.
I slipped on my flip-flops and headed out the door on Friday.
I learned two things within 20 minutes of my arrival:
1 – Don’t wear flip-flops to Harborfest.
2 – Go to the bathroom as many times as possible before you leave the house.
I started on the midway where two kids zipped past me at warp speed to raid their mother’s purse for another go ‘round on the SkyFlyer. (A swing ride that is entirely too high in the air for me.)
They board the ride and I watch them whip around the sky for a few minutes.
But I’m more intrigued with the young boy/girl duo struggling to make it up the short, wobbly rope ladder game.
The both flip over and fall with laughter onto the big bouncy air mattress below them.
Their moms keep a close eye on them as they bounce off of the mattress and make a beeline for the haunted house.
Mom number one is Deanna Kraft of Oswego. She loves Harborfest.
“I bring my kids and we do the rides and enjoy all of the festivities,” she said.
Mom number two is Christina Roddy. She’s also a fan of the event.
“We’ve been coming for the last eight years since we moved to Oswego,” Roddy tells me. “I scheduled my work days just so I could be off for this weekend.”
I’ve only ever been to Harborfest once in my life, and it was at least 20 years ago. I remember nothing. (Well, I remember a few things, but it’s not suitable for this particular story.)
“So where are all the vendors and music and food?” I ask the moms.
“Up that hill to Breitbeck Park,” Roddy tells me.
“Up that big, giant hill?” I ask, thinking maybe she’s mistaken.
I go. In my flip-flops.
At the top I discover a whole new world. I meet 11-month old Gary Held Jr., who can’t stuff a giant French fry in his little mouth fast enough.
Just a hop, skip and jump away from his stroller is a family that is clearly enamored with balloon animals; they’re all wearing them on their heads.
I meander further into the park where several wine vendors are offering samples of their stock at no cost. I watch as one young boy tugs at his mothers’ shorts.
“Mom? Are you gonna stay here and drink wine samples all day?” he asks her.
“You leave your mother alone,” says a red-haired woman with the boy.
I nod politely at them as I pass by the wine tent.
I head toward the stage where Kenny Loggins will be performing at 8 p.m.
I glance at my watch. It’s 2 p.m., and already, more than half the lawn is covered with chairs, coolers and tarps.
Wow. Clearly, there are many seasoned Harborfest attendees that know how to get ready for a concert.
But the crown goes to Bobby Rosce of Blossvale and Daniel Metott of Ithaca. They brought a tent, some cards and a cooler full of food and pop. Oh, and a bunch of friends.
“We brought the tent in case it rains,” Metott tells me. “This way we can at least sit inside with the door open and listen to the band. We can play cards and really enjoy the music.”
“You gonna sleep in this thing?” I ask him.
“Probably,” he says. “If I can. I plan on leaving tomorrow night. So I hope they don’t shoo me away.”
I have blisters on my feet and I haven’t even been at Harborfest for a full hour. I thank Daniel Metott for his time and take a bench nearby to slip off my shoes. I decide that I’ve already failed the Harborfest trip with my choice of footwear, and will have to take the rest of my tour in bare feet. As I look around the park, I see that I’m not the only one. Phew.
My last stop is just around the corner where a half a dozen silver beer taps glisten in the sun. A pretty auburn haired lady is behind the bar. She smiles at me.
“Can you do me a favor?” I ask her, tossing my flip-flops on the grass. “Can you just pour a glass of beer for me so I can get a nice picture of it?”
“I would,” she says, “but the taps aren’t on. We’re serving cans.”
“You want a beer?” a gentleman next to me asks. He’s just cracked open a Budweiser and couldn’t be more exited about it.
“No,” I say with a smile, “but I’d love for you to tell me about your day so far.”
His name is Steve Bratchie. He’s originally from Long Island.
“Well,” he says with a big laugh, “we went over to the games and I spent about a $100 dollars on NOTHING! No, wait…I got a blow up gun!” He shows me his giant camouflaged prize and wraps it around his shoulder. “What a deal, right? What a bargain!”
I laugh with Steve, as I know what it’s like to drop a ton of cash, only to come home with half-stuffed dogs or cheap novelty toys.
But it’s all part of the fun, right?
Armed with my camera, my sunglasses and my flip-flops, I head out of Breitbeck Park and back down the hill to my car. I’ve enjoyed my little tour of Harborfest.
My feet hurt, but that’s my own darn fault. I’ll come back Saturday with sneakers. I have to! The moms told me the fireworks were the best they’ve ever seen, so I’ll be back.