Courtesy of Shannon O'Connor

Concertgoers enjoy live music at the 2022 Three Bears Summer Concert Series.

June 18, 2024

Concert Series Brings Music and Community to Ovid

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Since 2021, Ovid County’s Friends of the Three Bears has organized a concert series to showcase local musicians and provide free community access to the arts. Scheduled from June through August, the concerts run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. every Thursday. This series has become a local tradition for both Ovid locals and other Finger Lakes community members.

The concert series was launched in 2021, hosted by the Three Bears Historic Courthouse Complex and funded by a grant through the Auburn Public Theater. The event is organized in tandem with the Ovid Farmers Market — which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. — allowing visitors to enjoy both events each night.

This year’s 2024 concert lineup includes:

  • June 20: The Flower Pots (Country)
  • June 27: Three Stone Fire (Celtic)
  • July 11: Uncle Joe and Rosebud Ramblers (Traditional songs and storytelling)
  • July 18: Inner Crazy (Modern covers and originals)
  • July 25: Nate Marshall (Americana folk/blues/swing)
  • August 1: Whistle Adill (60s and 70s music)
  • August 8: Notorious Stringbusters (Bluegrass)
  • August 15: SE Leigheas (Celtic)
  • August 22: Jason Stotz (Steel pan)

According to Shannon O’Connor, the grant and programming coordinator for the Friends of the Three Bears, both local bands and new talents are chosen. This keeps the performance lineup unique every year.

“Each year, we bring back crowd favorites and introduce new acts to keep the series fresh,” O’Connor said. 

Additionally, this year features a new initiative: a kids’ art cart. A South Seneca student will be leading participants in art activities related to the music being performed, providing an opportunity for children to engage in the arts visually as well as musically.

In addition to arts involvement, the concert series promotes engagement in culture through dining. 

“We’re hosting the concerts on Thursday evenings, because local businesses are open late on Thursday so [concert-goers] have a couple of different restaurant options,” O’Connor said. “People like to just eat and drink on the lawn. Kids usually run around and dance.”

In the event of rain, concerts are moved to the restored, elevator-accessible courtroom in the Papa Bear building, which boasts excellent acoustics.

The Papa Bear building is one of the three buildings, referred to as the Three Bears, that make up this historic Seneca County Courthouse. The concert series is organized by the Friends of the Three Bears, which aims to preserve and utilize this building complex.

The complex includes Papa Bear, the original courtroom and jail, Baby Bear and Mama Bear, which now serves as a tourism office. The courtroom in Papa Bear has previously served various community functions, from church services to lecture halls. According to O’Connor, the Friends of the Three Bears strive to “keep that feeling of the civic community center in these buildings.”

Since the founding of the Friends of the Three Bears, the organization has endeavored to “become the heart of the community for fine arts and education, and as a hub of tourism for the Finger Lakes Region,” according to the organization’s website

In these efforts to establish a flourishing arts scene in a small town, the Three Bears organizes a host of programs, including knitting lessons, a quilting bee, arts workshops and a speaker series.

O’Connor emphasized the sense of community that this annual series fosters between locals and visitors alike.

“Because it is in the village of Ovid, people can walk to the concert. We also get visitors driving in, knowing they can stop by the diner or grab a pizza and sit on the lawn,” O’Connor said. “It’s a nice way to spend the evening together as a community.”

Dorothy France-Miller is a reporter from The Cornell Daily Sun working on The Sun’s summer fellowship at The Ithaca Times. This piece was originally published in The Ithaca Times.