October 28, 2021

Annual Arts & Wine Festival delivers fun for kids, prizes for artists

Travis Dunn/staff reporter

Nate “The Great” Marshall of Ithaca juggles for the crowd at the 13th Annual Arts and Wine Festival at Courthouse Park on Saturday.

Nate the Great had a question Saturday at the 13th annual Arts and Wine Festival for 6-year-old Josefene Lewis of Homer: Did she know what a Chinese spinning plate was? She shook her head.

So he showed her, by placing a spinning plate on top of vertical stick. Then he handed her the stick, with the plate still spinning on top.

“I’ve got to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back,” said Nate, mock-exiting stage right. “You just stand right there.”

Josefene, bewildered, looked from the stick to the disappearing Nate, as the kids in the audience giggled.

Nate “the Great” Marshall of Ithaca, whose act included music and juggling, was one of the featured attractions at the festival in Courthouse Park in Cortland, which this year expanded its offerings for kids.

“We’re trying to make it a full family thing and not just about the wine and the art,” said Kat McCarthy, executive director of the Cultural Council of Cortland County, which sponsors the event.

There was still plenty of art and wine, but the kids’ stuff was front and center as festival- goers entered the park. In addition to Nate the Great, the day also featured the Lily Silly Puppet Show and a reading by children’s author and illustrator Suzanne Bloom, as well as a sidewalk chalk-drawing contest.

Afternoon musical entertainment included Answer the Muse, Fall Creek Brass, the Homer Junior High Ukelele Club and the Basin Street Jazz Band, followed by the the Belly Set Go Belly Dancers.

Maggie Phelps of Cortland had a henna-tattoo and homemade soap booth in sight of the stage. As she sat back to watch Nate’s juggling act, her daughter Alida, 6, tattooed her mom’s left foot with green ink.

“We’re enjoying it,” said Phelps, who set up a booth for the first time this year.

“Three semester of community college, and I did learn one thing — a lot of hackysack,” said Nate in the background, as he flipped a bowler hat from his shoe onto his head.

On the other side of the park, Fred Warner of Ithaca displayed his watercolors — landscapes and fish and wildlife, mostly, with a few of fishing lures. Every artist in the festival could enter one artwork for judging, and Warner’s entry was a watercolor of a variety of area fish titled “Cayuga Lake Sampler,” price $185.

“It attracts a lot of attention, but nobody’s bought it yet,” said Warner, who took up painting in retirement. He has exhibited his work at artists’ markets in Ithaca and Groton, but this was his first time setting up a booth in Cortland.