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Empire Kings
The Sim Redmond Band
Photo by Ed Dittenhoefer
Circus Culture
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Big Mean I-Town Revue
Wassa Pan Africa Dance Ensemble
Road Man
Ithaca Ballet
The Blind Spots


Do you remember 1977?

By McKenzie Jones Rounds, March 21, 2017

We've been having a lot of fun getting inspired by the early days of Ithaca Festival as we prepare for our 40th anniversary. Please read below for some fun information about what took place years ago. As we research 1977 in Ithaca, we want to know if you remember the first festival.

If you were part of planning the 1977 Celebration Ithaca, or if you overheard your parents share a memory in the kitchen, we want to hear it! Please send any, all, or more of the following submission ideas to photos, newspaper clippings, programs, buttons, memories, costumes, whatever! We can't wait to hear your stories.

"Director: Sorrel Fisher | Theme: Celebration Ithaca

The very first festival, “Celebration Ithaca” combined the talents of professional artists of national renown with the skills and talents of the local community-funded by NEA grant of $15,500. This first festival occurred during 14 days in September and included dance, sculpture, music, art, mime, parades, and food. It culminated with a finale that sent athletes and dancers scaling walls and roofs on the Commons with a multi-media mix of music, slides and sculpture. Trumansburg artist, Loretta Pompilio, the Festival’s “godmother” (she was the catalyst who introduced the original “Celebrations Group” to Ithaca, (Dennis Valinski, Marilyn Bob Wood, Alex Moir) created enormous inflatable jack-in-the-boxes. Janet-Braun Reinitz “wrapped” the Whiton House on Terrace Hill in 300 yards of muslin, topped off with a big red bow; gift-wrapped for Celebration Ithaca.

A balloon-like “Sky Launch” in the form of a waterfall (60’ x 20’) was created by Dennis Valinski with the help of members of the community. The environmental sculptor said that his strongest impressions of Ithaca are of “gorges, waterfalls, the lake, horizons, fish and an enormous sky.” He said he hopes to incorporate the “essence of Ithaca” into the sculpture. “We are re-inventing ritual in our culture to experience ourselves as a community. This is a piece that does homage to the essence of Ithaca and unites the common experience of Ithacans.” -Dennis Valiniski

One couple stepped out on the momentous occasion of that Celebration’s climactic evening wearing fine Victorian clothes, cleverly fashioned all out of newspaper! The crowd, as the evening drew on into some prolonged drizzle, got down and dirty beating (Festival supplied) pairs of sticks together in endless, mad, driving rhythms. These were but two of the unforgettable instances of imaginative participation. – Sandy List

Festival was planned to “pull together that feeling of community so often lacking in this day and age.” -Robert Earle, festival supporter."

Photo by Haley Davis.