Children’s laughter could be heard over the live music playing Saturday at Dwyer Memorial Park. Families played cornhole, picnicked and tailgated. The smell of rain mixed with campfire and barbecue smoke and the occasional waft of kettle corn.
Kicking off the Fourth of July weekend, dozens of families spread out across the park for Cortland County’s annual Independence Day celebration.
“It’s great that everyone was able to come out and finally get out of the house and everything,” Alan Ricotilli, the engineering and maintenance supervisor with the Cortland County Highway Department, said Saturday afternoon. “Finally the weather started cooperating and, although it’s a little slow compared to years past, I hope everyone enjoys it. I think it’s going to be a good time.”
Nicole Albro and Kris Wakula power-walked to meet up with their friends by the bandstand.
“Having bands was a great idea,” Wakula, of Homer, said Saturday. “We’re here for the live music and seeing our old neighbors.”
The Homer Center of Arts hosted a beer and wine garden’s and the occasional alongside a lineup of local bands including Steve Daniels, the Rooftop Revelers, Jon Rogalia & The Swamp Boys, Tribal Revival and the father-son duo Doug and Eamonn Hubert of Hotdogs & Gin. People could buy hotdogs and hamburgers fresh off the grill just a few tents over, sold by the Cortland Repertory Theatre.
“We both grew up around here, coming to the park every Fourth of July,” Albro, of Truxton, said. “The county really invested in this park, they’ve really saved it. I’m so happy they’ve put this weekend together.”
As the evening continued, more families arrived to see the fireworks display.
Dana Thompson and Isiah Ellis, both from Homer, watched their 5-year-old splash in the creek by Little York Lake that afternoon. Attending the annual Independence Day celebration is a tradition for their family.
“We’re always here for the fireworks,” Thompson said. “We went fishing, Isiah’s brother brought kayaks, we tried out a jetski — it’s a good opportunity to get out. Our son loves it, we’ve been here every year with him.”
The night concluded with fireworks sparking across the sky, lighting up the entire park.
“With the changes we made for this year, we can build upon that and hopefully it becomes a yearly event that we can draw more people to, and really show off the park and have a good time,” Ricotilli said.