Potsdam Summer Festival kicks off July 12 with live music
Sunday, July 8, 2018 - 4:24 pm

By ADAM ATKINSON

POTSDAM -- Potsdam’s 2018 Summer Festival kicks off Thursday, July 12, with a full schedule of live music and stage performance, vendors, classic car show, ice cream, street food, book sale, bouncy houses, kayaks, a 5K run, fireworks and Cubby the Clown and Company.

This year is the 51st year of the festival organized by the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber Executive Director Maggie McKenna said a big highlight of the festival for many is the varied musical performances staged on Market Street, which is closed to traffic and turned into a street fair for three days.

“We’re so fortunate to have such talented people around our area,” she said.

A full schedule of Market Street stage performances this year includes:

Thursday, July 12

1-2 p.m., Jacque Kuno; 2-3 p.m., Musical Way Academy; 3-4 p.m., 95.3 The Wolf country showdown competition; 4-5 p.m., Church and State; 5-6 p.m., New Horizons Swing Band; 6-7 p.m., Microburst; 7-8 p.m., Margarita Mike’s Blue Moon Café; 8-10 p.m., Shawn Stoddard & Backwater Blues Band.

Friday, July 13

11 a.m.-Noon, Jacque Kuno; noon-1 p.m., Chipman Jazz All Stars; 1-2 p.m., Echoes in Black; 2-3 p.m., Pat Duffy; 3-4 p.m., St. Lawrence Centre Line Dancers; 4-5 p.m., Big Papa & The Escape Key Band; 5-6 p.m., Christian Parker; 6-7 p.m., Tas Cru and Mary Ann Casale; 7-9 p.m., Six Foot Midget; 9-11 p.m., Nyte Wing.

Saturday, July 14

10-11 a.m., Sapp Martial Arts Demo; 11 a.m.-noon, Seth & the Moody Melix for kids; noon-1 p.m., Sunday Rock Legacy; 1-2 p.m., Seth & the Moody Melix; 2-3 p.m., Bill Melchoir, Rebecca Branchau; 3-4 p.m., Burn the Evidence; 4-5:15 p.m., The Noncommittals; 5:30-6 p.m., Runway Hair Show; 6:15-6:45 p.m., Firefighter’s Review; 7:15-9 p.m., Ten Speed Taxi; and 9-11 p.m., Northbound.

The annual Run to the River competition by local firefighters, the Outer Market Kid’s Zone and Market Street concerts, some of the Festival’s most loved events, will once more be staged as well said McKenna.

“The Firefighter's Review and Run to the River are some of the biggest highlights for the whole event -- we get to thank our superhero firefighters for all the work they do for our community and then have some fun in the park with a big hosing down,” McKenna said.

While McKenna was only recently appointed as director, she was serving as interim with previous director John Morrison prior to taking over and was able to get up and running fairly quickly to continue the work begun by he and Ballou planning the event.

“I got the chance to work with John for about a week and half before he left. He was able to set up a lot of information for me including a list of contacts, so I've been communicating with everyone on there to make sure they know who I am and all the details are worked out. There are still some vendors coming in, so one of the greatest challenges I've been working on is organizing the vendor layout for Market Street and a bit for Ives Park. My friend Bob Josephson actually helped me by setting up a scale model of Market St to help with the layout! What an amazing help,” McKenna said.

McKenna said next year she would like to switch the music around some, and bring in more variety to the main stage. She would also like to open up opportunties for more music around town. She would also like to make the art show bigger and team up with other local organizations to improve the festival overall.

“I'm really looking forward to learning from the experience this year so I can make it an even better event next year. I have a lot to do this year and I know it'll be even more next year, but I know once I get my bearings here, I'll bring the enthusiasm and progressive thinking needed to bring this event to new heights in the future,” McKenna said.

As a parent and community member, McKenna and her family have their favorite festival events.

“My little ones really love face painting, so I'm really glad there will still be a few options for that this year including in front of Legendary Loot and in Ives Park on Saturday,” she said.

“Really, what I love most about the Summer Festival is that it brings so many people out -- we're all just out having fun together in the center of our community. We live in such a fantastic place, so it feels like we're all just celebrating how much we love this place together,” the director said.

A schedule of other festival events this year includes:

Thursday, July 12

11 a.m., Potsdam Elks Chicken BBQ, 10 Elm St.; noon-7 p.m., Gina’s Scholastic Book Fair, site of former Northern Music, Market Street; 6 p.m., Tour de Potsdam 5K, walk 6 p.m., run 6:30 p.m., Beal Street; 6:30-8 p.m., Ice Cream Social, Brass Firemen in Ives Park at the Gazebo.

Friday, July 13

8 a.m.-4 p.m., Rescue Squad Garage Sale at the RS Building; 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Book sale, Civic Center Basement; 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Kids Inflatables, Potsdam Elks, 10 Elm St.; 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sports for Cancer Dunking Booth, Between the Buns, Elm Street; 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Gina’s Scholastic Book Fair, former Northern Music, Market Street; 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Outer Market Mania, Touch A Truck, Big Lots Plaza; noon-1:30 p.m., Cubby T. Clown and Friends, Big Lots Plaza; 9:30 p.m., fireworks viewed in Ives Park, rain date: Saturday; 6-7:30 p.m., Potsdam Community Band, Ives Park gazebo.

Saturday, July 14

8 a.m.-4 p.m., Rescue Squad Garage Sale, Rescue Squad Building; 9 a.m.-3 p.m., ONNY Junque Sale, Pine Street Arena; 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Farmer’s Market, end of Main Street parking lot; 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Book sale, Civic Center Basement; 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Kids Inflatables, Potsdam Elks, 10 Elm St.; 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sports for Cancer Dunking Booth, Between the Buns, Elm Street; 10 a.m.5 p.m., Gina’s Scholastic Book Fair, former Northern Music, Market Street; noon-6 p.m., Pig Roast & Live Music, VFW, 95 Market St.; 3 p.m., ground-breaking ceremony for Cheel Center expansion, Clarkson University; 7-7:15 p.m., RUN TO THE RIVER; and 3-5, 7:15-10 p.m., Laser Tag, behind the Clarkson Inn.

Also, on Saturday, in Ives Park: 9-10 a.m., Family Yoga, with Trillium Center; 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Ives Park Craft Show, vendors; 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Car Show, south end of Ives Park; 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Kayak experience, Ives Park boat launch; 11 a.m.-noon, New Horizons Band, park gazebo; 12:30-1:15 p.m., Jack Kelley Little Big Band, park gazebo; 1:15-2 p.m., Matt and Simon Bullwinkle, park gazebo; 2:15-3:15 p.m., Veils of the Nile, park gazebo.

While this year is a transition year, with longtime chamber director Marylee Ballou leaving the position for new employment, and appointed director John Morrison departing soon after, the chamber is looking forward to the future of providing a great Summer Festival experience to the community and visitors for years to come.

The organization recently appointed McKenna as executive director to realize that goal.

McKenna, a village trustee, a concert and event planner, and Potsdam Food Co-op board member is overseeing the final planning stages of the 2018 Festival.

“I think Summerfest is very similar to my other event planning experience in that there are many parts that all need to come together at the same time. We're making sure that we're incredibly well organized and have thought through every piece of the festival. Even if there's only the slightest possibility of running into a problem, it's best if we have considered it and even vaguely thought through solutions,” said McKenna.

“Unfortunately, this is my first time running Summerfest, so it's entirely possible that there will be issues that come up that I couldn't even imagine, but I'll be sure to remain calm and collected and deal with issues as they arise. Ultimately, there are some amazing people who help with Summerfest and have for many years, so I know it's not just on me -- we're all a team and we'll all make it happen together,” McKenna said.