OSWEGO, NY – The ever-popular Harborfest made its way into the record book Sunday afternoon as another successful “family reunion” for thousands.
While it’s sometimes deemed “Harbormess” because of the rowdy behavior of a minority during the four-day celebration, festival officials strive to offer a family friendly event with a variety of activities and fun for kids of all ages.
“Personally, we make it a point to do a kids’ day each year and see what new and exciting happenings the fest has for the children,” said a young mother from Fulton.
A staple in the usual Harborfest fun, the carnival rides, seemed a little dissatisfying this year. For a four-year-old, measuring in at 44 inches, the ride selections were slim and a personal family favorite, the kiddy roller coaster, was missing in action this year.
For $20, guests could purchase a bracelet and ride unlimited times throughout the day.
The carnival games returned as well, including the dart game, the milk jug game, the water gun game and the ever so popular fishbowl game where youngsters can win their own fish.
The fun was not in short supply at Novelis Family Park, either.
Located at West Park, there was a very wide variety of fun things for the children to do and see.
The children’s musical, Wonderland, was the Harborfest Children’s production for 2015. It was staged multiple times throughout the weekend.
Doug Rougeux the “Bubble Man,” InJest, and Pete and Chris Amusements were performers also scheduled all weekend.
Dan the Snake Man, Oswego Bookmobile and the Shineman Robotics tent were just a few of the other entertainment pieces at the park.
“My 4-year-old loved Dan the Snake Man. He even brought out an alligator for him to touch. My son thought that was great” said Sarah Murphy. “And we also really enjoyed the musical, Wonderland. It was performed really well.”
A lot of new and returning vendors and activities, such as horseback riding, face painting and hula-hooping, were presented as well.
Perhaps the highlight of the Family Park this year, was Children’s Museum of Oswego’s activity center.
Under a large tent, there were multiple stations and hands-on activities set up for children of all ages to enjoy.
From Legos, musical instruments, sensory station and giant bubbles, to a maze of air tubes launching balls and scarves, every child at Harborfest could find something fun to do with CMOO.
“I really like the activities they have at the CMOO tent. My 1-year-old had a ball and would’ve stayed there all day if I let him. Sometimes they don’t have stuff that will accommodate his age range, but he had a blast,” said Harborfest-goer, Cierra Bolton.
Employees in Novelis T-shirts walked around the park and offered free Novelis lunch pals filled with snacks, a water bottle and a Frisbee.
Tia Brazda, known for her pin-up girl style and dazzling sound, is one of Canada’s hottest new Jazz artists.
Her debut album ‘Cabin Fever’ burst onto the scene in 2012 and, as evidenced by her two performance at Harborfest, Brazda shows no signs of slowing down.
“The rain may have scared off a few folks from the Saturday afternoon, but it was still a great crowd, very enthusiastic,” she said, adding, “It’s quality, not quantity. This is our first time playing in the states. We’re very excited to be here. Everyone has been wonderful.”
Her first EP ‘Cabin Fever’ made an impressive impact in 2012, hitting No.1 on the iTunes Canada Jazz Chart, as well as receiving airplay on BBC and CBC Radio, Jazz FM 91.1 in Toronto, and college radio stations across Canada.
Bandshell (her new album) just hit number one also, she announced Saturday.
Anna Ozuna and Niurka Ozuna from New York City were practicing their dance moves in East Park near the jazz stage Saturday afternoon.
“We’re learning how to do this dance,” explained Anna, a SUNY Oswego graduate. “We’re not sure what we’re doing right now. But, we’re working on it. We’re having a good time here. There is so much to see and do at Harborfest.”
Crush is only four years old, but he was treated like a rock star in East Park.
“I’ve had him since he was a baby, now he’s four year old. And, he is going to keep growing. The last time I weighed him, a few months ago, he was a little over 30 pounds,” said Debbie from near Utica, as she cuddled her pet.
The tortoise ambled through the grass, nibbling the greenery and taking time to pose for photos with the dozens of curious onlookers.
“I love him and he loves me. Dan, the Snake Man, was in this park four years ago and he had his snakes and turtles and everything. I was holding one of the little babies, because I’ve always loved turtles and tortoises,” Debbie told Oswego County Today. “I said, ‘oh I love you.’ It was facing away from me and when I said that, he stuck his head way out and turned around to look at me. I said, ‘Oh my God, he loves me back!’ So I adopted him; I had to take him home with me.”
She said she brings him back every year so people can see the difference in his size every year.
Last year he was maybe half the size he is now.
“He was small so we could carry him around and go visit Dan. He’s too heavy to carry all that way this year,” Debbie said. “He’s an African spur thigh tortoise (sulcata) He is the third largest tortoise species in the world. He’ll continue to grow until the day he dies.”
(Steve Yablonski contributed information for this article)