Colton Country Days to bring a week of events
By ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
COLTON – The 36th annual Colton Country Days kicks off July 14 with events scheduled throughout the week which celebrate the community with music, art, food, frog jumping contests, dramatic productions, and barn quilts.
Now in its 36th year, Colton Country Days started as Country Skills Day in 1983, said Mary Jane Watson from the Colton Historical Society, one of the event’s organizers.“It featured area residents such as Sid Rexford, hand woodworking; the Charles Pregger family from Potsdam area demonstrated carding, spinning and knitting wool from their own sheep; Greg Gleason demonstrating some aspect of woodworking; Mary S. Watson caning chairs; Margaret Thomas tatting; Betty Ramming talking about the use of dried herbs and wild plants; Pete Rose weaving on a loom; Mary Rutley making corn husk dolls; Roger Randall showing ammunition reloading, and even a ‘Skirts 'n Flirts’ square dance demonstration by Harley and Leota Lincoln. Evelyn Riehl always had something special just for the kids. Cyndy Hennessy and Evelyn Riehl were ones who started the event,” said Watson.
These days, the one-day festival has grown into a week of events before culminating in Traditional Colton Country Day on Saturday, July 20 with an all-day program of activities and attractions around town.
“I especially like the expansion of the festival from being a one-day celebration to a week-long celebration which showcases a variety of things to see and do around town, now around an annual theme that gives focus to both Winterfest in January and Colton Country Days in July,” said Ruth McWilliams.
McWilliams, chair of the town’s Tourism & Beautification Committee, has been involved with the festival for the last 10 years. The event is planned by the committee, the historical society and various other community partners, McWilliams said.
“There is a core planning team; however, there are many more event organizers. We try to provide contacts for the event organizers in the detailed schedule. In this way we acknowledge key players involved but also share the responsibility,” she said.
With the growth of the festival, however, there are challenges when it comes to planning the event.
“From my perspective the core planning team is a really too small of a group. And in recent years the core team has started planning earlier so facilities could be reserved, the schedule could be publicized, and other decisions could be made with lead time,” McWilliams said.
The festival also has a great deal of volunteer help, she said, with town employees, especially from the DPW getting involved, along with local students. More volunteers are always welcome though, McWilliams said.
Organizers work to keep things fresh at Country Days, with new attractions along with old favorites.
“Every year we try to highlight new and different things to see and do in town; and we partner with other organizations in the area,” McWilliams said. “This year we're partnering with Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) on the Barn Quilt Party, with the St. Lawrence County Historical Association on the Hamlet of South Colton Walking Tour, with St. Lawrence University staff on the Guided Hike & Talk at Snow Bowl State Forest, and with Grasse River Players on three performances of ‘The Tavern.’ In addition a highlight for me, this year even though I'm not a CPCS alumni, is the 50th reunion performance by The Blue Mystics which coincides with the 50th anniversary reunion of CPCS alumni.”
McWilliams said organizers have already started discussing the theme for Country Days 2020.
“And I personally would like to see some ties with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women's constitutional right to vote,” she said. “Once we get past the upcoming summer festival we will begin to focus more on next year since through the Colton Historical Society we do seek grant funding to help support historical, theatrical, and educational activities leading up to and during the next year.”
McWilliams said Colton Country Days along with Colton Winterfest “are a wonderful opportunity to showcase the community.”
“It does take different interests in the community and partners in the area working together to have successful festivals.”
Colton Country Days is slated for Sunday, July 14 through Sunday, July 21.
The schedule of events includes:
• Sunday, July 14 -- Barn quilt party 1-5 p.m. at Swift Field (with Pavilion as rain location) in hamlet of South Colton; includes barn quilt information, story sharing, demonstration, and sales plus rock painting & scavenger hunt, food by Colt’s Pride Booster Club, music by New Horizons Swing Band, and much more, contact Ruth McWilliams 315-262-2450;
• Monday, July 15 — Story walk on John Stone Memorial Nature Trail, 10 a.m. with light refreshments afterward, features new book titled “Frog in A Bog,” contact Lorraine Gowing 315-212-8293; owl presentation and book signing by Mark Manske of Adirondack Raptors, 1 p.m. at library or town hall on Main Street, contact Ruth McWilliams 315-262-2450;
• Tuesday, July 16 — Hamlet of South Colton walking tour, 2 p.m., features sites from Post Office to St. Paul’s Oratory, parking at Community Center on Sugar Bush Lane, contact Mary Jane Watson, 315-262-2617;
• Wednesday, July 17 — Introduction to Qigong, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Main Street gazebo (with Town Hall across street as rain location), contact Andrea Malik 315-262-2034 of Forest Spirit Martial Arts & Qigong; Guided Hike & Talk at Snow Bowl State Forest, 2 p.m., includes geologic information plus demonstration at climbing crag, parking along Scovil Road, contact Ruth McWilliams 315-262-2450 or Mary Jane Watson 315-262-2617 for Tourism & Beautification Committee;
• Thursday, July 18 — Evening performance of ‘The Tavern,’ pre-show entertainment by Canton Goldenaires, 6:45 p.m., CPCS auditorium lobby (upper level), performance (1st of 3 during week) starts at 7 p.m. CPCS auditorium, contact Elaine Kuracina 315-212-0451 for Sunday Rock Legacy Project and Grasse River Players;
• Friday, July 19 — Used book sale, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Book Nook behind library along State Highway 56, limited parking for book sale customers only, contact Mary Ann Owen 315-262-2617 for Friends of the Colton Hepburn Library; evening performance of ‘The Tavern,’ pre-show entertainment by Canton Goldenaires at 6:45 p.m., performance (2nd of 3 during week) starts at 7 p.m. in auditorium, contact Elaine Kuracina 315-212-0451 for Sunday Rock Legacy Project & Grasse River Players;
• Saturday, July 20 — Traditional Colton Country Day; pancake breakfast, 7:30-11 a.m. at Colton Methodist Church on Church Street, contact Shirley Gardner 315-386-2103; food vendors along Main Street, The Well at Colton Wesleyan Church bake sale and more starts at 8 a.m.; Colt’s Pride Booster Club with hamburgers, hot dogs, and more starts mid-morning, contact Cyndy Hennessy 315-262-2524; tours of Zion Episcopal Church 9 a.m. to noon, contact Joe Liotta 315-261-2866;
And, crafters, vendors plus artwork 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. along Main Street, contacts Linda Dunning 315-212-7228 and Cyndy Hennessy 315-262-2524; used book sale 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Book Nook behind Library along State Highway 56, limited parking for customers, contact Mary Ann Owen 315-262-2617 for Friends of the Colton Hepburn Library; giant water slide and bouncy house 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on green between town hall and library, contact Darren Richards 315-262-2731 ext. 3; games 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., contacts Diane Wolf 315-265-0933 for CPCS Class of 2023;
And, CPCS 50th Anniversary Alumni Reunion 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at gazebo behind museum, contact Linda Dunning 315-212-7228; museum exhibit on “Great South Woods” plus Stone Valley Information Center 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in museum, contact Mary Jane Watson 315-262-2617; frog jumping contest, 10 a.m. with registration starting at 9:30 a.m. in front of Zion Episcopal Church, contact Cyndy Hennessy 315-262-2524;
Also, whitewater release at Stone Valley 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for paddlers and spectators, trailhead parking on Riverside Drive, contact Ruth McWilliams 315-262-2450; chicken BBQ 11 a.m. in Fire Station on Riverside Drive, contact Aaron Johnson 315-262-2333; music performance by The Blue Mystics 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. under tent in parking area of Zion Episcopal Church, contact George Cayey 315-262-2810; music on the bridge and in the pub starts at 3 p.m., contact Randa Mitchell 315-261-4161; ice cream social and fireworks 7:30 p.m. at Fireman’s Field off Gulf and Hanson roads, contact Linden Snyder 315-262-2433;
• Sunday, July 21 — Matinee performance of ‘The Tavern,’ pre-show entertainment by Canton Goldenaires at 1:45 p.m. in CPCS auditorium lobby, final performance at 2 p.m. in auditorium; contact Elaine Kuracina 315-212-0451.