The Monday August 1st, 1988 edition of The Palladium-Times carried the front page headline “Harborfest Titled Smashing Success”. The article quoted then Mayor, John T. Sullivan, as saying the event was “Smashingly successful…it was beyond our wildest expectations”. The executive director of the Greater Oswego Chamber of Commerce at the time, Sandy Resnick, indicated that the most popular event during the inaugural Harborfest was the Saturday night Grucci fireworks display. Resnick commented “The real indication of success is the fact that people are asking about next year…that’s the feedback that counts”.
Fast-forward to 2012 and the 25th version of Harborfest looks to keep building on that momentum that Sullivan and Resnick spoke about in 1988. Harborfest has grown by leaps and bounds since the 1988 kick-off event but still maintains a sense of the beauty that the Oswego Harbor has to offer to hundreds of thousands of visitors that make their plans to be in Oswego on the last weekend of July each summer. Handling this many visitors is not an easy task to pull off.
The one constant which the not-for-profit Harborfestivals, Inc. has learned from day one, is that you cannot put on a festival of this magnitude without a small army of organized volunteers. The number of volunteers some summers can easily approach 1,000. There are nearly four hundred volunteers permanently in the database which is the tip of the iceberg needed to help cover over five hundred fifty four hour shifts during the festival and just over two hundred shifts to help with setting things up for the event. Volunteer applications can be picked up at the Harborfest Offices at 41 Lake Street and volunteers can submit their name by visiting www.oswegoharborfest.com.
So much input from repeating sponsors and fest goers have given the Harborfest Board of Directors much optimism for the direction the 2012 event is starting to take. Many “favorites” will remain as they have for several years and some changes are anticipated to bring certain venues back to the way they used to be. Harborfest is negotiating to again bring back tall ships into the Oswego harbor which may include a bicentennial reenactment of the war of 1812 at Fort Ontario. East Park will return as a jazz and blues park. River Walk East will return with expanded vendors. West Linear Walkway will have a great blend of local acoustic music. Breitbeck Park will again be the site of national recording acts from Thursday through Sunday. The harbor itself will be the setting again for the world famous Grucci fireworks display. And as stated, sponsor and family feedback have asked to help return to the original mission of the late Charlotte Sullivan to have a Children’s Park in a family oriented safe setting. In 2012, families with children will again be able to take in all of the waterfront activities that Harborfest has to offer and then circle back to West Park where the “Children’s Park” will return to its former location.
Many details are still being worked out for all aspects of the 25th Harborfest. Program Committee members have already begun to sift through dozens of local talent applications from groups and individuals that want to be part of the great talent line-up for 2012. Complete press releases concerning sponsorship announcements and local and national talent signings will be covered in depth in The Palladium-Times and on the Harborfest website