Celebrating Art and Community in Cortland

Cortland Artist Molly Reagan Creating an interactive mural
by Carol Fitzgerald

Art lovers, music fans, foodies and kids at heart are in for a treat this summer. The Arts Off Main Festival, a free community event that celebrates the creativity of Cortland’s downtown area, has something for everyone.

        The festival is set to take place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on August 5 on Court Street from Main St. to Church Street, which will be closed to vehicular traffic for the occasion. With the absence of traffic, festivalgoers can roam around in a large and safe block party and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the event. Visitors will be able to stroll along the street and admire the works of more than 40 artists and artisan vendors who will display their unique pieces including paintings, sculptures, stained glass, pottery, photographs, jewelry and handmade crafts.

        The Arts Off Main Festival is a reimagining of the Arts & Wine Festival which ran for 12 years. Since its inception, Arts Off Main has meant a lot to artists and guests alike. For artist David Beale, the event allows him to reconnect with friends and offers an opportunity to make new connections. “With its large following, it has become an important cornerstone of the summer festival schedule in Cortland County and the surrounding area,” Beale added.

        Dan Guth, who has attended the Arts Off Main Festival in the past, has especially enjoyed seeing artists’ original designs. “I always enjoy attending the Arts Off Main Festival because it has such a diverse and high-quality selection of art,” Guth stated. “I like to support local artists and buy their products as gifts for myself or others.”

        As people walk around the event space, they will be treated to the sounds of live music. Local performers will take to the stage throughout the day, thus creating a lively and upbeat mood and adding to the festive spirit of the event. Among the musicians performing this year is Colleen Katteau. “The Arts Off Main Festival is a great platform for me to showcase my songs and interact with the audience,” she said. “I love playing music that makes people happy and energized. It is an incredibly fun and supportive environment.”

        Festivalgoers can enjoy the music while drinking a craft beverage in a wine garden or while sampling delicious cuisines. Downtown restaurants will offer a convenient free takeout service during the event. Patrons will be able to order from menus from a takeout station; the restaurants will then deliver the food directly to diners at a covered food court area. “I like the fact that I can order from different restaurants and have them delivered right to me,” stated Cindy Ball, a past festival attendee. “It is very convenient and satisfying.”

        The festival will provide interactive and engaging activities for guests of all ages such as pottery making, puppet shows and wool felting. Local artists will share their talents and help people bring out their artistic side by creating their own art pieces to take home. “I had a blast at the festival last year with my family,” said Hannah Gibbons-Arthur. “We did so many fun activities together. It was a wonderful way to spend quality time with each other and express our creativity.”

        One of the Art on Main Festival’s unique features is the interactive chalk mural. Festivalgoers can participate in the creation of a beautiful mural on the street, letting their imaginations run free while making their own mark. This collaborative effort also allows visitors a chance to marvel at the skills of professional chalk artists who will create 3-D festival murals right before their eyes. For Bev Shoup, who attended the festival in 2022, the chalk mural was her favorite part of the event. “It was so cool to see how everyone added their own drawings and messages to create a beautiful masterpiece together,” she said.

        The Cortland Arts Off Main Festival is a celebration of the city’s vibrant arts and culture scene. It is an opportune way to support local artists and businesses while having a fun and memorable time with family and friends. It is also a great opportunity to explore and discover the many attractions and amenities downtown area.

        “We are immensely proud to organize this festival every year as Cortland Arts Connect,” said Martha Beck, Cortland Arts Connect president. “The Arts Off Main Festival is one of our signature events that highlight our local talent and culture in a fun and accessible way.”

         To learn more about the festival, visit cortlandartsconnect.org.

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