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Ithaca Fest

Written by Meredith Farley

One of the many colorful characters in the Ithaca Festival parade.

A little rain didn’t put a damper on this year’s Ithaca Festival; Ithacans came out of the woodwork, filling up the Ithaca Commons and Stewart Park with music, dancing, crafts, artwork, and delicious food.

This year marked the 31st Ithaca Festival, which started in 1977 as “Celebration Ithaca.” The Ithaca Festival has become one of the largest annual events in Upstate New York. It showcases over 1,000 musicians, ensembles, community groups, visual and performance artists, craftspeople, actors, dancers, storytellers, poets, and writers. The mission of the festival is to celebrate the creative spirit of Ithaca. The event encourages local groups and citizens to showcase their talents and causes while celebrating the unique culture of Ithaca.

This year, the festival kicked off on Thursday night with a parade that weaved its way through downtown Ithaca. The festivities continued all weekend with musical performances, booths showcasing artwork and goods, and local restaurants dishing out heaps of great food.

You can always expect to see drumming and dancing at the festival -- and on the Ithaca Commons throughout the summer!

At the festival, many local organizations set-up camp, letting Ithacans check out what’s going on in the community, and encouraging them to get involved with causes they care about.

This year Stewart Park was also part of the festival. The extra space allowed for more vendors and musicians to participate. Ithacans hung out on the grass while listening to some local favorites, like Orleans, while kids cooled off in the sprinklers. At 3 p.m. on Sunday, Ithacans gathered and formed the (unofficial as of yet) world’s largest peace sign, while representatives from Guinness World Records looked on. 5,814 people participated in the peace sign, trumping the former record of 2,500 people at the University of Michigan.

Much of the festival is free, but everyone is asked to purchase a button for $5.00 or a tee shirt for $20.00. The TCAT bus provided free transportation for anyone wearing a button, Thursday through Sunday, to and from the Ithaca Commons, Dewitt Park, and the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. There was also a bike path from the Ithaca Commons to Stewart Park, for anyone riding to the festivities.

The Ithaca Festival is a not-for-profit organization that is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. The festival usually takes place the week after Memorial Day, but was pushed back this year to celebrate the Summer Solstice.



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