OSWEGO, NY – Over the weekend, the Port City celebrated what the area is best known for – Winter.
This year marked the 10th annual Warm Up Oswego festival. Funds raised by the fest are being reinvested to support future Warm Up, Oswegos.
Temperature sunk near 30 Saturday; the windchill made it feel even colder. However, the hundreds of people braved the weather in and around the downtown Oswego didn’t seem to mind.
Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of people wandered around the Civic Plaza and two floors of King Arthur’s Suites to check out the vendors’ wares and watch the various demonstrations and performances.
At one point, the unofficial count put the afternoon’s visitors at more than 1,600 — and that’s not counting the large crowd that turned out to view the 6 p.m. fireworks display by Pyrotechnico.
The crowds came in waves. With the start of each new performance on the second floor in King Arthur’s, a whole new group of people crowded around the performance area.
Nathan Emmons, festival chair, welcomed the large crowd to the opening ceremonies.
“I encourage everyone to enjoy our downtown and all the activities that will take place here,” he said.
The event wouldn’t be possible without all the great sponsors and volunteers, he added.
“This festival gives us the opportunity to celebrate Oswego’s fabulous winters. Today, we’re going to show the world that Oswego is one hot town!” Mayor Tom Gillen said. “This is the 10th annual festival. I want to say thank you to Mary Vanouse for all the work she’s done over the years to make this festival happen.”
Following the opening remarks, the annual the Hot 2K Trot race got under way.
Inside events kicked off as well with music, hot and spicy foods, 40 vendors including many local crafters, Hot Chili Cook Off, quilt raffle, children’s activities and demonstrations.
At Civic Plaza, youngsters enjoyed snow bowling and snowman making, the Snow Belters barbershop singers entertained, Gina Holsopple and the Sophie Woods Band also performed as well as others.
The 10th annual Downtown Hot Scavenger Hunt featured a grand prize of $250. More than 40 area businesses took part in the event.
“We’re known here for our spectacular winters,” the mayor told Oswego County Today. “This festival gives us the opportunity to celebrate that. It is a great family event as well. It’s wonderful to see all the demonstrations and performances. There are a lot of good things going on in Oswego. The committee did a great job putting everything together this year.”
The event drew several hundreds of people to the Civic Plaza and King Arthur’s and scores more to various other locations all around downtown from noon to 4 p.m. for the annual Hot Scavenger Hunt.
In the Treasure Hunt in the Snow event, children dug through a mountain of snow on the southwest corner of Civic Plaza to find prizes.
Matthew and Matthew Gordon stopped by King Arthur’s to watch Heather Plyler’s Soul Hooping demonstration. Before they knew it, they were taking part in the demonstration as the elder Matthew showed off his Hula Hoop skills with his son sitting on his shoulders.
“We did not expect this. But it was fun,” he said.
His favorite part of the festival, however, was watching his wife, dressed in an elegant white gown, dancing with all the children prior to the hoop demonstration, he said.
“She is a princes today. She is princes Pearl,” he explained.
“I think we had a nice turnout,” said Vanouse, Oswego’s community development director and one of the organizers of the event. “Everything is going well and everyone is having a real good time.”
Inside King Arthur’s, dozens of local vendors, businesses and organizations had booths which offered a myriad products and services.
Among the vendors were Paparazzi Jewelry, Sara Elizabeth Photography, Jinny’s Jackets, Green Planet Grocery, A Touch Of Grace, The Children’s Museum of Oswego, The Oswego Railroad Museum and many more.
Irish dancers and karate students showed off their skills. SUNY Oswego student Christopher Wiehl amazed the audience with his magic tricks. And members of the Port City Roller Derby gave a presentation about their sport.
Several others also entertained the crowds.
No one went hungry. Besides popcorn and other snacks, Aunt Mary’s Italian Cookies and Catering, Cupcakers, LaParilla and others offered a variety of cuisine.
Boy Scout Troop 888 cooked hot dogs over a fire outside.
The shops in Canal Commons were buzzing with activity. Shoppers were purchasing coffees, candies, original artwork by local artists and much more. And they could take a break outside Taste the World and sample some wine ice cream.
“It’s really quite good,” said Kathy Schrecengost
At the Civic Plaza, some youngsters played king of the mountain on a pile of icy snow following the treasure hunt in the snow event.
The team crazy costume sled race pitted two SUNY Oswego fraternities against each other this year.
“We practiced and trained very hard for this competition,” Phi Psi team spokesperson Gerald Rockwood said after the convincing victory. “We hope to keep it going through Greek Week.”
“Everything is going very well,” Emmons told Oswego County Today. “We have a great day, with a little bit of snowfall, too. There have been big crowds at all the events.
“We are fortunate to have fantastic community partners that helps us make this a destination winter festival,” Emmons added.
This year’s community partners included Integrated Community Planning, Master Pryor’s Taekwondo, City of Oswego, Oswego YMCA and Mentor’s Ambulance.
Warm Up, Oswego was a tobacco-free event. The partnership with Tobacco Free Network and Warm Up Oswego Festival is an initiative focused on smoke free public outdoor spaces.
The fireworks by Pyrotecnico display began at 6 p.m. and blazed in the sky over the Oswego River for several minutes.
The major sponsors of the Warm Up Oswego festival included the city of Oswego and Pyrotecnico, who put on the fireworks display over the Oswego River on Saturday evening.