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Summer in full swing at Potsdam festival

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POTSDAM — It isn’t every day 6-year-old Hannah and 4-year-old Ryan Charlebois get to stroll down the middle of Market Street through the heart of downtown.

That’s one of the annual highlights for the siblings of the Potsdam Summer Festival, according to their parents.

“They think it’s a big deal that the street gets closed and they can walk in the road,” their mother, Sarah, said.

“They look forward to this every year,” added their father, Jack. “It’s just a mark of summer, I guess.”

That “mark of summer” was visible up and down Market Street and in Ives Park on Thursday evening. In the park, fans of the Norwood Brass Firemen gathered to hear the group play. They sat in lawn chairs under the shade of trees as the sun set, held red, white and blue balloons and enjoyed ice cream sandwiches distributed by the Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad as they listened.

Jane S. Mott of Norwood brought her grandchildren from Austin, Texas, to hear the band. Emily A. Mott, 9, said Texas doesn’t have ice cream socials. She was impressed with the Rescue Squad’s selection. She was excited to spend summertime in the north country; Austin recently had 109-degree temperatures and canceled Fourth of July fireworks on account of dry weather, she said.

Her grandmother was glad to see old friends and former co-workers at the event.

“You get to chat with people you don’t normally get to chat with,” Ms. Mott said.

Richard D. and Patricia I. Lavine never miss the summer festival. The town of Potsdam residents said the event is a nice change of pace in the summertime.

“There’s often not too much going on,” Mr. Lavine said. “It’s something we really enjoy.”

Hundreds congregated on Market Street as merchants and vendors sold their wares and a live band, Six Foot Midget, sang covers of Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison. Many patrons of Sergi’s Italian Restaurant and Maxfield’s opted to sit outside in front of the establishments to take in the atmosphere.

Andrew P. DeLeon of Chicago, Michele M. Spear of Rochester and Courtney J. Trainer of Chateaugay drank water as they walked down Market Street. They had just finished the “Tour de Potsdam” 5K race in Thursday’s heat and wanted to check out the festival too.

The three said life for Potsdam’s student population slows down in the summer, and they were glad the village hosted a festival.

“It’s nice to have something going on,” Ms. Trainer said.

The festival continues today and Saturday. “Outer Market Mania,” featuring children’s games and entertainment, will be in the Big Lots parking lot from noon to 4 p.m. today. The Friends of the Library will have its book sale in the Civic Center basement from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

A downtown parade will take place from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Saturday, and the Raquette River Craft Beer and Wine Festival is both days from 3 to 9 p.m.

There will be live bands today and Saturday throughout the day and evening; at 6:30 tonight the Potsdam Community Band will perform in the Ives Park gazebo.

Potsdam Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marylee E. Ballou said the festival’s first day went well, with large crowds and nearly flawless weather.

“It’s to be out and about, to meet up with your family, meet up with your friends in a community atmosphere,” she said.

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