By Ashley M. Casey
Harborfest is coming to your town, and classic rock band Grand Funk Railroad will be there to help you party it down.
Grand Funk is one of numerous acts gracing the stages at Oswego’s 27th Harborfest, which takes place July 24 through 27 on the shore of Lake Ontario.
Grand Funk Railroad will perform at 9:15 p.m. Friday, July 25, on the NRG Lakeview Stage in Breitbeck Park.
Don Brewer, drummer and vocalist for Grand Funk Railroad, told The Valley News while this is Grand Funk’s first Harborfest, the band has toured in Upstate New York before.
“We’ve been up in that part of the country a few times,” Brewer said. “We’ve always had a good time … always had a good turnout.”
Turnout shouldn’t be a problem, as Harborfest Executive Director Steve Fulton said he expects about 200,000 attendees for this year’s festival.
Brewer, one of the original members of Grand Funk Railroad, said the band expects to play a 90-minute set of both old favorites — their hits include “We’re an American Band” and “The Loco-Motion” — along with some new material.
“It varies from one night to the next. Sometimes we throw a few new things in,” Brewer said. He added Grand Funk Railroad may release some of this new material as part of a live album.
Harborfest is one of the stops on the band’s “40 Years of Grand Funk” tour, which kicked off in January and will continue into the fall. The band was formed in 1969. Brewer said Grand Funk seeks to appeal to all ages.
“It’s amazing to see three or four generations know all the words to the songs,” he said of Grand Funk Railroad’s wide fan base.
Brewer said the concert is a classic American rock show.
“Everybody should come and be ready to smile and sweat,” he said.
Also at Harborfest
It wouldn’t be Harborfest without the Grucci fireworks display, which takes place at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26.
“The beauty of the fireworks display by Grucci coupled with the Oswego Harbor will create an everlasting memory,” said Fulton, the executive director.
Fulton said Harborfest will feature more than 50 concerts, including national recording artists Grand Funk Railroad and the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
As part of the festival’s “Battle of Oswego” theme, the Port of Oswego Authority is sponsoring a re-enactment of the British attack on Fort Ontario, which took place May 5-6, 1814, as part of the War of 1812.
Tall ships, gunboats and cannons will be part of the spectacular re-enactment. Dr. Gregory Baran, a physician, will portray a British surgeon and will lead interactive displays and discussions about early 19th century medical techniques and war injuries.
Paul Lear, superintendent of the Fort Ontario State Historic Site, warns that “props and descriptions are graphic.”
Children’s history interpreter Shari Crawford will present interactive displays, games and activities for younger visitors July 25 and 26.
The re-enactment will be held at the Fort Ontario State Historic Site (East Fourth Street) and Oswego Harbor at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 26. Fort Ontario will be open 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 26 and 27. On Saturday only, the normal admission fee will be waived, but parking is $6.
More fun for all ages kicks off before Harborfest at the Children’s Gala, which will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 22, at the Breitbeck Park Food Court. The Gala, with its “A Day at the Beach” theme, offers food and activities for kids between the ages of 3 and 12. Admission is $5.
The Novelis Family Park has chosen “Treasure Island” for its theme this year. The park, located in Franklin Square (West Fourth Street), will feature the musical “Peter Pan” at 4 p.m. Friday, July 25.
Other activities at the Novelis Family Park include T-shirt decorating, face painting, live entertainment, healthy living workshops and a parade, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 25.
The parade departs from Breitbeck Park, follows Lake Street to West Fifth Street, and ends at the Novelis Family Park.
Also, Novelis will display the new all-aluminum Ford F-150 truck. The aluminum was produced in Oswego County at Novelis’ plant in Scriba.
A trolley system will be available for festivalgoers to navigate Harborfest easily. A weekend pass for the trolley is $3.