Strawberry Festival draws thousands
Friday and Saturday were met with sunny skies and warm weather and just in time for the annual Strawberry Festival held in Owego, N.Y.
When 5 p.m. arrived in downtown Owego, N.Y. on Friday, the streets were already blocked off and the food vendors were grilling and cooking food for the hundreds of guests who began to converge upon the Historic Owego Market Place for the annual Strawberry Festival Block Party. The evening offered food, drinks, entertainment, and a Straw Dawgz Contest at the Courthouse Square. The evening culminated with a fireworks display over the river near Draper Park.
Also taking place during the Friday night Block Party was a wine tasting tent set up at the Gateway Community Park on Front Street, and a Rock Climbing Wall on Lake Street. Those who arrived for the main attraction, the strawberry, weren't disappointed as there were plenty of desserts and drinks with strawberries available.
Following the Strawberry Festival Block Party, the streets in the downtown district were closed down once again for Saturday's main event.
With over 100 vendors lined up on every street and corner, the thousands of guests began to arrive early, and in time for the Strawberry Festival Parade. With approximately 70 units participating, this year's parade was not only entertaining, it also served this year's festival theme, A Strawberry Salute.
Organizers selected this year's theme to honor those who protect our communities. In line with this theme, Christina Porcari, the widow to fallen firefighter Matthew Porcari, who was killed in the line of duty in January, was named Parade Marshall.
The hose team from the company that the late Porcari served, Company No. 3, conducted a hose race following the parade to honor their fellow firefighter.
And the hose races were just one of the events that were taking place downtown on Saturday. There were jugglers, trackless train rides, airboat rides on the Susquehanna River, and festival food for every taste. Whether it was kettle corn, fresh squeezed lemonade, spiedies or wraps, there were plenty of food vendors, and they remained busy throughout the day.
The Strawberry Festival also offered entertainment throughout the day in several locations. Near the Court Street Bridge, former Foghat and Outlaws bassist Jeff Howell offered three and a half hour performance with his band, The Cats.
The Cats entertained guests with a variety of covers ranging from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Wild Cherry. This show was hosted by Upstate Shredding and Ben Weitsman & Son.
Next to the sound stage, Pat Hansen at the Hand of Man was selling strawberries, and serving up a menu that included Strawberry Shortcake and Waffles with Strawberries.
On the opposite side of the stage, Will Stafford entertained with his juggling of flames and bowling pins, and his antics with a unicycle.
For the vendors at the festival, the steady crowd offered opportunities to sell their wares, ranging from sunglass to sun dresses.
There were also many non-profits set up at the festival to include the Boy Scouts, who were serving up refreshments, and Stray Haven Humane Society out of Waverly, who were on-hand with T-shirts to sell, information, and a shelter dog that is in need of a home.
ODOG, or the Owego Dog Owners Group, was also on-hand to talk to guests about their plans to build a dog park in Hickories Park, if approved. The dog park is being funded by businessman Adam Weitsman in memory of his sister Rebecca, who died from cancer.
There was much to do and much to see on Saturday; and with the weather clearing up in time for the event, the organizers of the event, the businesses and vendors could not have been more pleased with the turnout.