Festivals, Treasures, & Edible Treats
By Michele DeBella
Two long-standing festivals are returning this month. The Remsen Barn Festival of the Arts and Uticon have a lot in common: they both celebrate art and local culture, support their communities by donating proceeds, and are distinctly unique shopping experiences.
If you were hoping to kick-start your holiday shopping but can’t make it to these events, don’t fret. Oneida County is packed year-round with eclectic shops and boutiques selling art and antiques, clothing and collectibles, and whatever else you may be on the hunt for. So read on, and let the shopping begin!
The Remsen Barn FOTA returns to Main Street September 22-23, with more craft and food vendors than ever before. “Thirty-nine years ago, the first barn festival actually included a tour of local barns,” explains Judy Helmer, President of the Barn Festival, in response to how the event has evolved through the years. Now, it’s a weekend-long adventure complete with continuous musical entertainment and more than 250 craft and food vendors showcasing their jewelry, textiles, woodcrafts, pottery, holiday items, and more. There’s also a farmer’s market selling local honey, jams and jellies, fudge, local cheese curds, etc.
What has remained a steady festival presence? The visitors. “People return each year, rain or shine, because it's such a good feeling,” said Helmer. “You can do your Christmas shopping, meet old friends as you stroll down Main Street, and eat everything from a hearty meal to a sweet dessert. It's got it all, in a friendly little town.”
Admission is free. The festival is run by volunteers and proceeds benefit Remsen education, athletics, beautification of the town, the fire department, the arts center, and more.
September 22: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
September 23: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Main Street, Remsen (Follow signs off Route 12 for parking. Authorized FOTA parking: $5)
Have your picture taken with the Klingon Assault Group and the Rebel Alliance, and then try out the hunting equipment used by The Ghost Seekers of Central New York. These exciting events are on tap for Uticon, now in its 15th year of celebrating comic books and pop culture.
Fans can also expect an impressive guest line-up which includes long time comic book writers and artists, local comic book creators, and local Science Fiction & Fantasy authors. New to Uticon this year is Bob Almond, an artist whose credits include Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Trek.
“This is his first time visiting our area and we're excited to have fans meet him,” said Uticon coordinator Bob Elinskas.
Vendors will also be on hand, selling new and old comic books, role-playing games, and other pop culture items. Cosplay is welcome.
“There are many comic book shows in larger cities,” said Elinskas, “so it's great to be able to bring that same fun and atmosphere to Central New York. We try hard to make the show very family-friendly and love seeing kids (and adults!) rediscover the fun of comic books.”
And because proceeds go to the American Cancer Society, “it's truly a win-win for everyone.” Elinskas also pointed out that the event is run entirely by volunteers. Admission: 18 and up: $5. Ages 13-17: $3. Kids 12 and under: Free.
September 23: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Jorgensen Athletic/Events Center at Mohawk Valley Community College
1101 Sherman Drive, Utica
YEAR-ROUND SHOPPING DESTINATIONS
Antiques and Treasures
Why not center an antique-hunting itinerary on your trip to Remsen Barn Festival of the Arts? If you’re driving up Route 12 from Utica, look for the big red barn that is Foothills Mercantile in Barneveld. Browse their friendly store in search of vintage pieces, furniture, and more, all at a wide range of prices. After the festival, head a few miles north for Back of the Barn Antique Center. In this very large space with multiple dealers and inventory that makes a quick turnaround, there’s no better place to hunt for that perfect vintage treasure.
Want to expand your antiquing horizons even further? It’s no exaggeration to say that at least one antique shop exists in nearly every town in Oneida County. Start your hunt, for example, at A&A Treasures in Sylvan Beach for everything from antiques and collectibles to gem stone jewelry and wood burned art. Travel a bit further south to The Bull Farm Antiques in Vernon and peruse their ceramic figurines, collectible signs, and colored glassware.
Continue your quest at Westmoreland Antique Center, packed to the rafters with vintage photos, vinyl records, and holiday merchandise. Make your final stop Berry Hill Book Shop in Deansboro, a converted dairy barn stocked with thousands of used and antiquarian books.
Gifts and Specialty Items
Outdoor enthusiasts will love CampFitters in Camden. If you’ve always wondered where to buy a bear-shaped doormat for your cabin in the woods, this is the place. Stop at Munson-Williams-Proctor Gift Gallery in Utica for scarves, prints, and jewelry made by local artists. In Clinton, Ali-Linz Home & Accessories sells candles, hand and body lotions, wine glasses and other gifts perfect for housewarming or the holidays.
Local Eats and Delicacies
Central New Yorkers are passionate about their food, proven by the many outstanding shops selling local goodies. Want to finally find out what Turkey Joints are? Nora’s Candy Shop in Rome has been making the curiously delicious treat for decades.
Sample some award winning, locally made New York State cheese—and pick up a cheese gift box for your favorite foodie—at Adirondack Cheese Co in Clinton. Finally, pop in to Adirondack Distilling Company in Utica for some handcrafted New York spirits.
See here for a complete list of shopping destinations in Oneida County.