Ithaca-fest

In the summer time here in the Finger Lakes there is at least one ( if not many) festivals every weekend. So there is no way to check everything you want to out all in one year. Last year we stayed local and went to Glassfest for the weekend of Memorial Day.

For more on this see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/glassfest/

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This year instead we decided to go to Ithaca-fest; another town-festival this one always held the weekend after Memorial Day. Over the past year and a half we have explored several Ithaca based festivals and always enjoyed them for the people watching (college students), local musicians, and of course the best varied and international festival food in the area. For more on some of the Ithaca festivals we have enjoyed see:

Apple Fest: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/apple-fest/

Chili Fest: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/ithaca-chili-cook-off/

So we left around 1pm on Saturday and took the scenic route through Walkins Glen toward Ithaca enjoying watching the sail boats on Seneca and Cayuga lake on the drive up. When we got to town it was clear the whole city was buzzing with activity. This 4-day long festival kicked-off with a parade on Thursday, and festivities around the commons are held Friday-Sunday.

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Each day of the festival multiple stages placed throughout the closed roads hosted local musicians representing all ages and styles of music. In addition to this, the park and church stages included smaller local cultural activities such as youth dance, Hawaiian dancers, belly-dancers, youth orchestra etc.

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Several city blocks were taken up with local crafts: photographers, painters, jewelry makers, woodworkers, food goods and more. Speaking of food this past week was also Ithaca restaurant week featuring special offers from some of the best local restaurants as well as several local ingredients/sourced three course meals. One full block of the festival was devoted to the many wonderful varied food vendors everything from Tibetan, Thai, and Indian to Tacos, BBQ and potato pancakes. We enjoyed walking the winding streets even though it was very busy.

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We were a little surprised with how extensive of a hype this festival gets that the commons, which has been under construction for more than the past 6 months, was still torn up and unfinished. Also, for the many stages and performers there were no places to sit and watch the musicians, performers, (or just people watch). There were some tables set up for the food vendor area but it was far from enough to accommodate this large crowd.

 

We did noticed that this was much more  family festival then previous Ithaca festivals. There was only one winery represented, a very small beer/wine area at one performance stage, and few college students around. Instead the festival crowd was mostly made up of  families enjoying the sunshine,  children’s activities and rides, and some local ice cream.

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Overall it was a great day to be out and about but we were done exploring after an hour and a half and left the crowd behind to explore on our own. In our explorations we found a new Korean grocery store and the best Chinese food we’ve had on the East coast we drove home happy (and a little sunburnt).

Have you done any local exploring? What summer activities are you looking forward to?

Apple Fest

Last Saturday Luke and I drove up to Ithaca for their annual Apple Fest ! As you may know from past posts (cinnamon oatmeal apple muffins) I love apples, really I do.

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I know that it is typical to think of pumpkins come autumn, but first in my mind is apple season. Growing up my family  each year would escape from LA’s heat and drive up to Oak Glenn to get apples at a local orchard. We would sample the year’s variety and pick a bagful of apples and other treats then head to one of the several area restaurants serving  apple pie. Last Fall before our wedding, we took my Dad up to Serendipity to see where we would be getting married. Then we drove minutes down the road to the Oak Glenn apple orchards to pick out local apples to decorate our wedding venue, and afterward as is tradition, we went to get apple pie.

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With that background, let me share about this years apple experience. We arrived downtown Ithaca around 2pm and paid an event parking fee of $5 then set out to find a map and explore the festival. The first we notice was how crowded it was!! This was obviously a very popular event,, especially with the local college scene.

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We started this multi-street venture with exploring apple vendors, bakers, and ciderys on Aurora st. It was difficult to maneuver through the crowd of people, some standing in front of vendor booths, other waiting in lines for hard cider tastings or to buy carmel apples or  kettle corn.

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When we came to the end of the row we noticed a long tent so packed with people you couldn’t tell what was being sold.  As we got closer we saw table after tables overflowing with local amish baked goods including pies, cakes, fudge, brownies, crisps, and cobblers. Rounding the booths we priced some of the apples per their pecks and shared a hot spiced cider for $1.50.

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We then took a break from the crowd and turned onto E. State street where a parking lot had been reserved for more vendors. In this lot were several more orchard/apple vendors, wineries, breweries, baked goods, and a live music stage.

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A line the length of the parking lot had formed at the end of Little Tree Orchards s waiting for a new batch of their apple cider doughnuts. Considering their popularity, we decided to buy a large bag of Northern Spy apples. We tried several of the wines and beers and Luke discovered one of the companies’ coffee stout was eerily similar to his own first brewed beer (for more on this see The home-brewing has begun).

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Taking turns carrying the bag of apples, we walked through the commons and to cayuga street to check out the craft vendors. We saw much of the same vendors or goods that were available at other festival throughout the summer/spring the usual: clothes, jewelry, photography, paintings, and custom wood or metal work.

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We also toured a smaller simultaneous festival occurring in Dewitt park called “The First People’s Festival.” The highlight of this seemed to be for children who were given the opportunity to make native crafts or hear traditional tribal stories. There were not many distinctive cultural crafts being sold that I could see and I was disappointed to walk away not feeling like I learned much about the four to five local tribes in the area.

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Last but not least we explored the food vendors on W. State st. which were all the cheap and unhealthy fair foods we’ve seen at every fest or carnival. But on the south side of Cayuga street was the international food market. From vietnam,  to India, to Cuba or good old American with a twist they had it all! Although it all looked and smelled delicious, we decided to just grab an iced chai tea and head back to the car. We had a beautiful sunny drive home and enjoyed watching the hills filled with fall foliage color, it was the perfect ending to a great fall festival day.

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So what did we do with all of those apples? Stay tuned to find out later this week. . .