Portion of Market Street to be blocked off for 52nd Potsdam Summerfest Thurs.-Sat.
By ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
POTSDAM -- The 52nd Potsdam Summer Festival kicks off Thursday, July 11 with three days of live music, food, local vendors, classic cars, sales, and other entertainment.
The event, organized by the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce, is the biggest event of the year for the community, and over the three days is expected to draw thousands to downtown.The annual fire department “Run to the River,” the Tour de Potsdam 5K, and the annual fireworks show over the Racquette River will be just a few of the mix of events and entertainment taking place all around town.
Kurstin Stowell, the chamber’s new coordinator who is tasked with putting all the pieces together for the Potsdam Summer Festival, is no stranger to the event.
“As a Brasher Falls native, Potsdam was a go-to larger town for my family. I have attended the Potsdam Summer Festival as a child and as an adult, I can say that the experience has been equally as fulfilling for both versions of myself,” Stowell said.
“I have to say that my favorite part of Summerfest is the entire atmosphere that it brings to Potsdam. During those three days, you see the community come together, you see visitors from out of town, there is music and laughter and the streets are so full. I love the happy, curious, exciting feelings that all of the features bring about. While I love the hustle and bustle of the festival, I also like quiet and the feeling of ‘awe.’ Over the last few years, I've gotten that from the Friday night fireworks,” said Stowell.
Stowell was hired at the chamber a few weeks ago and came to the job at the height of the planning and organizing stages for the three-day event.
“Though it has been an extremely busy first few weeks, I also feel it is a ‘blessing in disguise.’ Stepping into this role when I did allowed me to quickly build connections and interact with chamber members and the community,” said Stowell.
“Here at the chamber, they say that the summer festival is a ‘well oiled machine,’” she said. Stowell said the town anticipates the festival every year and regular sponsors, volunteers, and participants know how the festival has operated in the past. Those who have been involved already expect to help in some way, she said.
“My biggest challenge has really only been filling in the gaps and learning for myself where these roles come in and who to contact regarding them. Thankfully, I have a great team of support behind me. The chamber is entirely lucky to have the volunteers and board of directors that it does. I am lucky to have them,” she said.
This year students from SUNY Potsdam, New Hope Church and Emmanuel Baptist Church parishioners, volunteers from SLNYSARC, the chamber board of directors, and volunteers from other local organizations are chipping in.
She said however, the chamber can always use more help. To volunteer, contact [email protected] or call 315-274-9000.
The summer festival is full of “must see” events this year, Stowell said.
“If you have kids, you do not want to miss Outer Market Mania in the Big Lots Plaza on Friday,” said the coordinator.
“As always, there will be a wide variety of music throughout the weekend on Market Street. New this year, we will have two stages on the street! The entertainment will be non-stop all weekend long,” said Stowell.
Market Street acts this year include:
Thursday, July 11
On the main stage, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Dave Alderson Project, 1-2:30 p.m. The Girls, 4-5:30 p.m. Stephanie Fansler and Rob Zolner, 6-7:30 p.m. Sean Stoddard and The Backwater Blues Band, 8-10 p.m. Side Piece Blues Band; on the side stage, 12:30-1 p.m. Ed Trainor, 2:30-3:30 p.m. 95.3 The Wolf Showdown, 5:30-6 p.m. Ben Todd, and 7:30-8 p.m. Jacque Kuno
Friday, July 12
On the main stage, 10-11:30 a.m. Big Papa and the Escape Keys Band, 12-1:30 p.m. Chipman All Star Band, 2-3:30 p.m. Burn the Evidence and Aeonian, 4-5:30 p.m. Seth Moody and Melix, 6-7:30 p.m. Tas Cru and Mary Ann Casale, 8-10 p.m. Northbound; on the side stage, 11:30 a.m.-noon Potsdam Dance Company, 1:30-2 p.m. The Band Room Band, 3:30-4 p.m. Sapp Martial Arts Demo, 5:30-6 p.m. Nick Rycroft, and 7:30-8 p.m. Citizen Jack.
Saturday, July 13
On the main stage, 10-11:30 a.m. Pat Duffy, noon-1:30 p.m. The Redeemed, 2-3:30 p.m. Atom Ghost, 4-5:30 p.m. The Noncommitals, 6:15-6:45 p.m. Firefighters Review, 8-10 p.m. Six Foot Midget; on the side stage, 11:30 a.m.-noon Animal Crackers, 1:30-2 p.m. Church & State, 3:30-4 p.m. Sunday Rock Legacy “The Tavern,” 5:30-6:15 p.m. The Hoax, and 7:15-8 p.m. Cosmic Rust.
Stowell said other festival highlights will include the new yard games events in Ives Park, the new Food Truck Rodeo and the Beer, Wine and Cider tent on Fall Island.
“For this year, I had the chance to implement some new things to the festival. It is thrilling to see it all come together! My biggest hope is that these new features are as successful as I anticipate them to be,” Stowell said.
“Afterwards, our committee will debrief and we will examine the successes or learning experiences that we had and build from there,” she said.
Stowell said that for next year’s event, she would like to see many of the traditional favorites return while the chamber continues to grow the festival to be even bigger and better.
“Only time will tell which direction the festival will head in for next year. However, I do have many thoughts and ideas in my mind regarding Fright Night that I can't wait to work on when summer fest has settled,” she said.
“The Potsdam Summer Festival is an extraordinary, complex, grand event and I am very thankful to have the opportunity to stand behind it all and watch as it unfolds. The planning process, communication, sponsorship, and teamwork that goes into this event is almost mesmerizing. Piece by piece, dozens of people come together to make sure this thing happens, as smoothly as possible, for community members enjoyment,” Stowell said.
“It is wonderful and I am so pleased to have been able to witness the kind of business owners, employees and community members that make up the town of Potsdam so early on in my new career. I am ecstatic to be able to be a part of this group,” she said.
See the Potsdam Summerfest tabloid section for articles, a complete schedule of events, and a listing of all attractions.