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2 Responses to "Were the arts part of your holiday weekend?"

  1. Mary Jo Kelleher

    Wanting a quiet weekend with no shoes, I didn’t go out. But I spent some pleasant time with my CD player, listening to recordings of musical groups I’d heard live in various venues around Broome, Chenango and Tompkins counties, as well as further afield. Come to think of it, I’d purchased the CDs directly from the groups at their live shows.

  2. cyberbassdave

    It wasn’t exactly local, but since a representative from Corning’s GlassFest appeared in local media, my wife and I decided to make a day trip of it over the Memorial Day weekend. The first-time festival had some common and some different events each of its four days. There were arts and artisans in glass, ceramics, and metal; live music groups; lectures and historical tours; a play presented by high school students; an 8K race; food vendors, and Finger Lakes wine and beer tasting.

    GlassFest was the Crystal City’s initiative to encourage continued tourism on the holiday weekend known for 31 years for the LPGA Corning Classic women’s golf tournament. The tournament was discontinued after 2009 due to loss of sponsor funding. GlassFest is a well-organized festival showcasing the industry that made Corning famous. Its varied family-friendly attractions should continue to draw increasing crowds in future years.

    The online brochure and map laid things out very well, even suggesting programming your GPS for the Centerway Square parking garage. We could have found this easily enough with just the map, but decided to take “Samantha Garmin” along for the ride just so she could announce, in her emotion-devoid synthetic voice, when we were “arriving at GlassFest parking … on left.”

    Finding the covered (keeping the car cool) parking garage, free for the event, we discovered the information center was just next door. Its staff was friendly and helpful in pointing the way to venues. Since the Corningware Corelle Revere Store was just a half block away, we stopped there first to take advantage of Corelle’s 40th anniversary 40-percent-off sale, whose savings alone paid for the gas for the trip. (These brands, the former Corning Consumer Products Division of Corning International, were sold in 1998 to World Kitchen, the title sponsor for this year’s GlassFest.)

    Leaving some Pyrex and Corelle with “Gus,” our station wagon, we stopped at Centerway Square to watch the Corning Museum of Glass Hot Glass Roadshow crew. We’ve seen them twice before at Binghamton First Nights (one being the first First Night in 1996, at 15 degrees below zero!). It was fascinating to watch glassblowers Eric and Ryan build an ornamented goblet, constantly returning the piece to the “glory hole” furnace after each addition to keep the glass above 900 degrees. Finished, the piece required very slow cooling over 24 hours to prevent its cracking, a process called annealing. On the stage in the middle of Centerway Square, the WHS Jazz Band was setting up to play the afternoon gig.

    We ambled down Market Street, closed to vehicular traffic for the event, visiting art galleries such as The Glass Menagerie, studios, shops and tents with street vendors showing glass jewelry and ceramic décor. A guitarist played Victorian music outside Marich’s Music shop. There was even a working blacksmith. Somehow amidst the craft and food vendor tents, we managed to miss the FireArts demonstration tent where each hour a different glass, ceramic or metal artisan showed their technique.

    At the east end of Market Street stands George Greenamyer’s Centennial Sculpture, a steel arch with figures depicting a Chemung Canal boat, an early factory of the Corning Flint Glass Works (purchased and relocated to Corning from Brooklyn by Amory Houghton) and a castle. What caught my eye, being a fan of steam locomotives, was the 19th century locomotive with the letters FBCC. I asked about this at the nearby table representing the local historic preservation group. The lady went inside and quickly returned with Corning historian Tom Dimitroff, who enthusiastically explained that the letters stood for Fall Brook Coal Company, which in the late 1800s ran coal trains over its railway from Blossburg, Pa., to Corning. There the coal was transferred to barges for transport up the Chemung Canal and Seneca Lake to the Erie Canal. According to Dimitroff, Corning at one time was New York state’s third-leading water port! Dimitroff also explained that the other figures in the sculpture, a pair of women holding a giant cigar (no Freudian jokes, please) represented an industry where, though its product was not used at the time by women, its factories not infrequently were owned by women.

    I also learned that Corning was named after Erastus Corning, a former mayor of Albany, who never lived in Corning but was a major investor in land and railroads there. I must admit that, while I never liked history in school, I find it fascinating to learn about in real life. (Some time, if you ever visit Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa., ask someone why there are railroad scenes painted above the lobby. Hint: It has to do with Robert Packer’s brother Asa.)

    The day went quickly, without even visiting the Corning Museum of Glass. That will be a whole future trip in itself.