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It’s Summer Festival Week in Potsdam

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POTSDAM — Potsdam’s annual summer celebration returns on Thursday with its mix of music, entertainment and shopping.

Marylee E. Ballou, executive director of the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce, described Summer Festival as “a combination of a block party in the downtown area with coordinated events, as well as music,” adding that returning guests can also look forward to some old events with a new twist.

The festival typically draws anywhere 500-900 attendees a day, according to Ms. Ballou.

“Outer Market Mania” returns to 200 Market St. from noon to 4 p.m. Friday after an absence of five years. The kid-centered event was cancelled in years past because of businesses leaving the plaza, but a recent revitalization provided plenty of sponsors this year.

The festival is now too big to be contained on Market Street as it once was.

“After 45 years we’ve almost outgrown the area where this has occurred,” Ms. Ballou said.

On Pine Street, the new Madstop Market opens from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and is a spin on the old flea market from previous festivals. Ballou said that they are “trying to revive interest in the flea market,” and that “Madstop,” Potsdam spelled backwards, is an old nickname for the town.

On the same day, the craft show, which features handmade products by local artists, will take place beginning at 9 a.m. in at Ives Park. Non-profit organizations will also showcase at the park during the event.

Other highlights include an antique car show, the Racquette River Beer and Wine Fest, and The Orchestra of Northern New York’s annual “Junque” fair, which Ms. Ballou described as a high-end garage sale.

Market Street will be blocked off to provide room for the main stage, where musicians of all stripes will perform throughout the festival.

“I think music is the biggest draw of the festival. It celebrates our local music, and because of such variety, I think that brings everyone into town,” Ms. Ballou said.

The festival features live music on all three days, starting at noon Thursday at the Northern Music and Video Main Stage.

“There are some American Idol hopefuls, but they’re all very talented,” Ms. Ballou said.

Aside from individual singers, there are also bands that play the local music circuit.

“We have all genres; rock, country, bluegrass, jazz. We even have an orchestra,” she noted.

According to Ms. Ballou, the festival boosts Potsdam’s commerce while college is out for the summer. “Your clientele changes,” she said, referring to the absence of college students from SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson.

The festival is held in conjunction with both college’s alumni weekends. Many who used to live in Potsdam will return to the town for the event.

“People come to visit who grew up here, people come home that weekend because they remember coming to Summer Fest in the past,” Ms. Ballou said.

Summer Fest begins on Thursday with a chicken barbecue at 11 a.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m., and runs from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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