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A day of art, wine and song

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Mark Pendell, owner of Cortland’s Finger Lakes Tasting Room, samples visiting wineries Saturday during the Cortland Arts and Wine Festival at Courthouse Park in Cortland.

Grant Dolge was selling some of his watercolor and pastel artworks at Courthouse Park on Saturday, a sunny day with a slight breeze that drew locals in to see what art treasures they could find and what wines they would enjoy.

“It’s a good way to make a living, with your hands,” Dolge said. His first art show was 50 years ago, when he was 18. Don’t ask how many came before the 11th Cortland Arts and Wine Festival. The Tully resident used to do 40 a year, and has slowed a bit over the decades, but still offers paintings of scenic lakeside views and plant-filled vases.

Janise Martin and Emily Walters of Cortland have been coming to the festival since it started. Martin said it is a lot of fun for them so they would not miss it, with Walters’ favorite part being the shopping.

“It’s fun looking at all the artwork,” Walters said. “We always come home with a souvenir.”

The festival, put on by the Cultural Council of Cortland County, featured 43 arts and crafts vendors, eight food vendors and 15 wineries, up from last year’s 37 arts vendors.

There was also a children’s activities tent, bands playing on the County Courthouse steps and near the World War II memorial, and a new cellphone photo contest where people could vote on which one is the best. Festival Committee Chairman David Beale said there are usually around 2,500 attendees a year.

“The wine tent opens at noon, which is when people really come in,” Beale said.

Lance Leba of Long Eddy sold his homemade tables, made of flattened stone and tree branches. Leba flattens the bottom stone, attaches a tree branch to it by screws or glue, then eyes it to see where to cut the branch to place the last stones on top.

Leba has been making these tables for six years and has sold them at art festivals across the state.

“I can’t duplicate any of them,” Leba said. “Each one is one of a kind.”

Nick Connelly was representing Americana Vineyards from Interlaken. It was Connelly’s first time at the festival, but Americana won the people’s choice last year for favorite wine, so it got its booth this year for free. The vineyard was selling some of its sweet wines.

“We do about 20 (wine festivals) a year,” Connelly said. “They are all around the state, from Long Island to the North Country in Ogdensburg.”

Gabbi Reyes and Connor Olsen from CK Cellars in Penn Yan were there promoting the winery’s line of Redneck Wines. It was their first year at the Cortland Art and Wine festival, with the winery only taking part in about eight per year.

“These wines are on the sweeter side, so we came up with a fun label to draw customers in,” Reyes said.