Glass Fest!!

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Glass Fest, a four day festival in the Gaffer District, is downtown Corning’s biggest annual festival. It kicked off Thursday with the last  2300 degrees event of the season during which the Corning Glass museum is open to the public for a free concert and glass art demonstrations. Friday night started Rock the Park, a weekend series of free outdoor concerts at the Riverfront Centennial Park. Meanwhile, much like Cabin Fever the stores on Market street were open from 5pm-8pm for wine and beer tasting.

The big events hit Saturday starting with the Glass Fest 8K run in the morning. This was followed by day long art exhibits, live glassmaking demonstrations in Centerway square, and promotions in all the stores on Market street.

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Our adventure with Glassfest started Saturday afternoon. We bundled up for an unusually windy Memorial Day weekend. Walking down the center of Market street, we scoped out some of the vendors and sales in the antique stores: vintage colorful glass and pyrex, free face painting, puppet shows, and of course every possible unhealthy treat from deep fried goods to chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick. After sampling some local mustards, cheese, jam, and salsas we went to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art which was free to the public for the festival.

The Rockwell Museum of Western Art was started by local business owners Bob and Hertha Rockwell who collected Western art and artifacts and donated them for the museum now established in  Corning’s refurbished old City Hall.

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I was happy to be greeted by cactus in the museum’s foyer. Walking to the front desk, we told them we were locals and were handed silver deputy stickers to wear. It was suggested to start on the third floor. Each room of the top floor was brightly colored, displaying art depicting buffalo, native americans, cowboys, and the great frontier in statues, costumes, photos, collages, and of course paintings. The most prominent of paintings greeting us at the entrance was a great scenic view of Mt. Whitney.

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Working our way to the second floor, we found the exhibition display of photographs collected by National Geographic. These photos ranged from views of national parks, to rodeos, to reservation pow wows and everything in between. I enjoyed pointing out places I have been including Yellowstone, Carlsbad Caverns, and Yosemite.

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After the museum tour, we walked the rest of the vendors noticing local photographers, jewelry, and pottery makers, and of course more food vendors and children’s activities. In addition to the street vendors and glass demonstrations, in Centerway square Friday-Sunday a glass making competition was held called Flame Off. During Flame Off local glass artist could enter to compete for prizes and showcase their work to the public.

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When it came close to dinner time we decided to return to Sorges ,our local Italian restaurant, to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of our engagement. (see Memorial Day Flashback)

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After dinner we bundled up and headed to the Riverfront Centennial Park for a Rock the Park concert by DSB, a famous Journey tribute band. The park was crowded and people had set up chairs wrapping up in jackets and blankets in spite of the cold. Glow in the dark necklaces were passed through the crowd as children played and friends caught up drinking coffee and eating the last snacks of the day from the food vendors. Luke and I stood in the back singing along the songs we knew and tapping to the ones we didn’t. After a great finish on “Don’t Stop Believin'” (of course they left it to last) the fireworks show started shooting from the bank of the Chemung River.

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Although we didn’t attend any other events, Sunday the fun continued with street vendors, glass blowing demonstration, children’s activities in the park, and Flame Off. Monday afternoon Market street was closed again for the annual Memorial Day parade.

Talk about one eventful holiday weekend for Corning!!

What did you do for the long weekend?

My new hometown

Luke and I love to explore but sometimes for cost sake it’s better to stay local. Yet in this still very winter weather, no matter how tempting, we don’t want to get stuck inside. Fortunately we live in Corning.

Spending more time close to home, I realized I haven’t blogged about my new hometown.

(As I have written before click on any picture or word/phrase in orange to see more!)

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Corning is probably known best for Corningware or Corelle. You know, all those plates and baking dishes you buy for wedding registries? (maybe even bought for mine). This is where it all got started.

Corning was first known as a lumber town because the Chemung river runs through it. When the industrial revolution hit the city became a center for the railroad. By 1868 it had become the new home for Corning Glass Works. This is why Corning’s nicknamed “Crystal City”.  Tourist come in the summer to the Corning Museum of Glass featuring modern glass art, the science behind glass, glass uses, live glass blowing demonstrations, and an extensive collection on the history of glass.

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On the same property is their glass making studio where you can sign up to make a featured item.

Ornaments Luke and I made in the glass studio in December
Ornaments Luke and I made in the glass studio in December

Or you can take one of many glass shaping/art classes at the glass making studio.  You may remember my 2300 degrees blog; that event was hosted at the museum. Corning Inc.’s offices and one their research and development facilities, which test glass products for industry, science and technology, are also in Corning.

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As much as I love history, what you will probably hear me talk most about is our historic downtown called the Gaffer District (a gaffer =a glass blower/maker). This area encompasses several blocks of glass art studios, museums, eclectic speciality shops, antique stores, bars, bakeries, and restaurants.  Many events and festivals are held here annually (some of which I  will attend in the future and share with all of you ).

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If you are a history buff and want to know about Corning’s history: Click Here!

Want to know more about the historic downtown Gaffer District? : Check it out here!

or take a look at the Gaffer District’s Facebook page: Click here!

So that is a short tour of my new hometown. What do you think?

2300 degrees

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Since we didn’t get much of a vacation over the holidays, Luke decided to take a few days off of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. For our first day off, Thursday January 17th, we decided to go to 2300 degrees.

2300 degrees is a free event sponsored by the Corning Glass museum every third Thursday night from November to May. Each month the museum chooses one night to close the galleries and transform this tourist attraction into a site for a night on the town.

Corning Glass Co.  launched 2013’s 2300 degrees with a “Finger Lakes Finest” themed event which meant free wine tasting. You heard right: free!  The Finger Lakes Region, as our area of upstate New York is called, is home to many local wineries and wine trails nestled in the hills surrounding the local lakes.

Luke and I arrived around 5:40pm to find the Glass Museum parking lot, and all adjacent parking lots full. It was disappointing to have to walk several blocks in the snow, but it was promising to know that this event was well attended. Grateful to get into the warmth, we were greeted and given a program listing the 30 wineries and their booth locations.

We walked through the entrance and wandered toward the auditorium. Low-lit black dinning tables lined the back wall. On the stage was an Indie Rock band from California called The Blind Spots. A lead singer with a  Zooey Deschanel hair cut swayed as she sang and rocked to her decked-out microphone stand. On the adjacent stage screens flashed images from the Hot Glass innovation stage as lights danced on the open stage floor.

The Blind Spots
The Blind Spots

After listening to a few songs, Luke and I decided to check out the wineries. This was my first time wine tasting and although I know generally what I prefer, I was not as familiar with wines such as Caberet Franc, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer. Fortunately  being married to an ex-bartender, Luke has had plenty of wine-tasting experiences, so I let him take lead.

Each winery brought three to five wines  from crisp whites to full-bodied reds, some even brought fruit or dessert wines. We decided to focus on red wines. We wound through the corners, ramps, landings, and stairways of this modern museum reading each booth’s wine descriptions and taking brochures from the ones we liked best. (It didn’t take long for Luke to start a 0-10 rating system on the side of our program.) I was pleasantly surprised to discover we both liked the same wineries and the similar qualities in a red wine.  Just as I began to remember we had not had dinner yet, we rounded the corner to find a table of free snacks: cubed cheese, crackers, vegetables, dip, and cold cuts were piled high on round black tables getting quickly picked over.

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We took a short break from the crowds to watch the glass blowing in the Hot Glass Innovation studio.  A tiered open auditorium hosts a large screen showing the busy hands of the glass artists on the stage directly below. With the aid of state-of-the art video equipment observers can even watch the glass be turned and heated via a video camera inside the kiln.  Many people sat sipping their drinks while watching the artists make a large wine colored vase decorated with clusters of glass grapes.

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 In spite of the tight space, everyone was warm and friendly, milling around the booths discussing their taste and preferences with each other. Everyone stood in clusters holding comfortable easy conversation. If they bumped into someone it was only to  recognize their face and ask how their holidays were.

This was one local event we were lucky to attend. We now can support local wineries without any guesswork.

Curious what 2300 degrees really looks like?  Here is the event list and photo gallery: Click Here

Want more details on the wineries? Here is a link with information on “2300: Finger Lakes Finest”: Click Here

Looking for new up-and-coming music artists? Find out more about The Blind Spots: Click Here

P.S. I’d love to know: What do you do for date-night or a night-on-the-town with your friends where you live?