Oil City rolls weekend activities into festival

Oil City rolls weekend activities into festival

A slew of public events scheduled over an early October weekend last year will transform into a full festival this weekend in Oil City.

"We took a lot of things that were going on and put them together," said Stew Armstrong, artist liaison and marketing coordinator for the city's Main Street Program. "We incorporated what was happening and added a few more events."

What was created was O.C.toberFest, a play on the words "Oil City" and "Octoberfest," that is scheduled Friday through Sunday.

The newest festival to the city's agenda, one swelled earlier this summer with two BridgeFests in downtown, was launched after Kathy Bailey, manager of the city's Main Street Program, noticed a busy entertainment schedule a year ago.

"We were doing the Cornplanter marker and mural dedication and I noticed a lot of other activities, like the Arts in the Transit program and the Night at the Museum fundraiser, were being held at the same time," said Bailey. "So our promotions committee decided that we should have a festival this year on that second weekend in October. And, here we are."

Billed as a family festival, the three-day event may grow over the years but it is not destined to be "a mega event," said Armstrong.

"It's low-key, simple and easy, and focuses on being family-friendly. That's a big part of what we do so it fit in," he said.

Sponsored by city's Main Street Program and Oil City ARTS, the O.C.toberFest starts Friday morning with a kids' pumpkin-decorating contest drop-off at the Oil City Library and concludes with a mind and body wellness fair on Sunday at Town Square on the North Side. More than a dozen activities are inserted in the schedule between the festival's debut to its conclusion.

Friday's lineup of activities includes art exhibits and a music series, all at the National Transit Building.

On Saturday, the schedule features more than a dozen events that include a children's book-signing, pottery studio project, art walk, exotic birds, all-age karaoke, Night at the Museum benefit gala, live music and more.

Sunday's festival roster includes a pumpkin-decorating contest for local businesses, and yoga, judo, aromatherapy and more at a mind and body wellness fair.

While the city's Town Square and the National Transit art studios are prime locations for O.C.toberFest, several local businesses will also hold festival-related events.

"We wanted to include as many businesses as possible in this," said Bailey. "The whole purpose is to draw people downtown."

Sign-up for festival activities are at the Tipsy Chef, the Oil Creek Earthworks Pottery Studio, Joel Marrone's Exotic Birds, Karma Coffee Co., Last Call Tavern and Billy's.

Set in the middle of the O.C.toberFest schedule is a one-of-kind event called The Walking Reds, an entourage open to all "freckled, red-haired people" and planned from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Town Square. It is billed as "the largest gathering of redheads in one place in Oil City History!" according to the festival brochure.

"Christine Manning, manager of the Tipsy Chef, is a redhead, as are her daughters and grandchildren," said Bailey. "She thought this up just because she wanted to do it. It's new and different, fresh and fun."