A variety of food, entertainment and demonstrations attracted hundreds of patrons to the Ithaca Commons this past weekend to celebrate the annual Apple Harvest Festival.
Vendors lined the sidewalks selling homemade food and clothing, artisans displayed their creations, and booths gave children the opportunity to make crafts. Demonstrators protested a pre-emptive strike against Iraq during part of the festival on Saturday.
Participants could choose from a wide variety of cuisine, from the traditional festival foods of gyros and elephant ears to items following the theme of the event, like apple cider, apple butter and apple pie.
Business went well at the festival, according to Lew Ward, a resident of Smithville Flats. Ward’s booth represented his family business, producing and selling maple syrup.
“We come here every year,” Ward said.
For other vendors, like Gail Mazourek of Newfield, this was their first time at the festival. Mazourek opened a booth where she featured her artwork, rocks painted as animals and other objects. Interest in Mazourek’s creations has been excellent, she said.
“Several pieces an hour have sold,” she added.
She began her hobby over a year ago to raise money for a scholarship fund she established after the death of her 21-year-old son, Rudolph. The fund provides $500 a year to a student at Alfred State University.
“On a scale of one to 10, this [festival] is a nine, and that’s only because it’s a little chilly,” Mazourek said.
The festivities turned somber on Saturday, when about 100 protesters walked silently through the Commons holding placards with slogans like, “No War in Iraq.” Many of the demonstrators dressed all in black and passed out leaflets stating their position.
“This is to inform people about what is happening,” said Yvonne Fisher, a protester and Ithaca resident.
The protesters staged what Fischer described as a “die-in,” which is a “long-standing technique for protest.”
After walking amongst the crowd and vendors, the demonstrators found an open area in one section of the Commons, where they “died” by lying down on the ground with their signs. The protesters held signs with different ages and genders to symbolize the various victims of war, according to Fisher.
“This is to show the seriousness of what war brings,” said Jannie Burns, another Ithaca resident.
Burns voiced her opinion on why she opposes a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. “I think we need to think outside of the box,” Burns said. “I think this is about oil and about revenge for the Bush family.”
The protesters hoped to encourage spectators to contact their elected representatives and to sign petitions.
“We are not trying to be confrontational,” Burns said. “Hopefully, we can get people to act on this.”
In addition to the protest and the many vendors attracting pedestrians, several performers, including a cappella groups and belly dancers, provided entertainment for the crowd gathered in the center of the Commons One musical group, Sons of Pitches, performed on Saturday afternoon.
The group first performed at the Apple Harvest Festival last year, and this year the group promoted their new CD, With a “P”, whose album cover features a picture of the group singing at last year’s event.
All of the members of Sons of Pitches attended Ithaca College, and have now embarked on tours throughout New York State and New England. Earlier this year, they performed at the State Theater in Ithaca.
“What we like most about this kind of thing,” said group member Ross Mizrahi, “is getting right down into the crowd. Ithaca is a great place to do that.”
Along with the entertainment and other diversions, several members of the Cornell community spent their Saturday volunteering at the festival.
Members of the Student Assembly (S.A.) helped with preparations for the festival, blowing up balloons and hanging banners. Members also assisted in a pumpkin painting booth and in setting up the area used by performers.
This was the S.A.’s second planned community service activity of the year. The group has scheduled a different service project every month in place of one of their weekly meetings.
This was also the first activity following the induction of five new representatives who consist of three freshmen, one transfer student, and a replacement representative for the School of Hotel Administration.
“This was a great way to get to know all of our new people,” said Katie Howell ’04, vice president for public relations for the S.A.
The S.A. volunteers coordinated their efforts at the Apple Harvest Festival with On-Site Volunteer Services, a student organization that promotes volunteering at Cornell and in Ithaca.
“On-Site provides a great service to the Cornell community and I only hope more student groups take advantage of all the resources they have to offer,” said Noah Doyle ’03, president of the S.A.
Archived article by Mackenzie Damon