By Ashley M. Casey
A cloudy start to the weekend gave way to sunny skies last Friday as the Fulton Jazz Fest kicked off a breezy, fun-filled evening.
Held behind the War Memorial by Lake Neatahwanta last Friday and Saturday, the Jazz Fest boasted positive attendance, according to the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
Several local acts graced the Fulton Savings Bank stage. The Cortini Brothers, with special guest saxophonist Tommy Ciappa, warmed up the crowd for Friday’s opening “Happy Hour.” The bank also donated door prizes for the Happy Hour drawing.
Blue Moon Grill and Eagle Beverage Company hosted beer and wine tasting. Kathy’s Cakes and Specialty Treats, Blue Moon Grill and Upperlandings kept the hungry crowd well-fed.
The Anthony Joseph Swingtet followed the Cortini Brothers, and much-anticipated party band Atlas closed out the evening.
Saturday’s acts were the Freefall Orchestra, Nancy Kelly and Friends and the Billionaires.
Minetto resident Lisa Conroy, who attended Friday night with her husband, Ed, said they were most looking forward to saxophonist Ciappa and the food.
“There’s a good possibility we’ll come tomorrow,” she said.
Sharon Foster, a Fulton resident, was a Jazz Fest first-timer. She had seen the Cortini Brothers perform elsewhere and was looking forward to “coming together with some friends and enjoying the music.”
Jazz Fest was made possible with the help of a $2,894 CNY Arts decentralization grant recently awarded to the Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a good testament to the quality of this event that we got [this] grant,” said Beth Hilton, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. “The way the grant is chosen is it’s judged by a group of your peers, so it’s an honor.”
Hilton said that although she had not done an exact count of festival-goers, she would be able to estimate from the number of door prize tickets collected Friday night.
“So far, we’re really pleased with the turnout. With the weather looking a little iffy, we were concerned, but … we couldn’t ask for better weather,” she said. “The crowd is great; the food vendors are doing well.”
This year, the Chamber of Commerce invited upscale local artisans to sell their wares for the first time. Tammy’s Handcrafted Jewelry and Fashions and Grogg Pottery both set up shop.
Becoming a vendor was a last-minute decision for Kerry Dempsey, potter and owner of Grogg Pottery, which is located on Utica Street in Fulton. The music was an added bonus for Dempsey, who has enjoyed Nancy Kelly and the Cortini Brothers in concert before.
“I love jazz,” Dempsey said. On his sales outlook for the weekend, he added, “If nothing else, the music (is good).”
Tammy Waloven, a seamstress with Cortini Shoe Store, is the creator and owner of Tammy’s Handcrafted Jewelry and Fashions.
“I’ve come to the Jazz Fest before and it’s always a lot of people,” said Waloven, a Hannibal resident. “I think in general people like to support local artists. So far, so good – I’ve had a few sales.”
Hilton said the Chamber of Commerce is always trying to add to the Jazz Fest experience each year.
“We sit and talk about what worked well and what didn’t,” she said. “(We) try to improve on the next year (and) make sure we’re benefiting the community.”