Ithaca Blog

Monday, September 27, 2010

Apple Harvest Festival, Ithaca Commons, Fri. 1 Oct. - Sun 3 Oct.

A reminder that agriculture is Tompkins County's second-largest industry comes this weekend with the 28th Annual Downtown Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival.

The festival stretches from Friday noon til dusk on Sunday.

Favorable weather this season has produced a crop with exceptional flavor, growers say. Dozens of varieties will be available for sale on the Commons, along with cider and pies.

The family-friendly festival also includes amusements such as magic, belly dance, an Iron Chef competition, pie-eating contests, and a Ferris wheel.

Over a dozen bands provide music. On Saturday, at Dewitt Park, a First People's Festival celebrates Iroquois and other indigenous culture of the region. The State Theater hosts a concert by children's performer Dan Zanes , at noon.

More information is available from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, September 20, 2010

Commons Finds You Can't Partly Quit Smoking

Six weeks after its start, the city of Ithaca has declared the partial ban of smoking on the Commons a failed experiment, and decided to ban smoking on the pedestrian mall entirely.

The partial ban prohibited smoking in the center of the Commons, near the pavilion and the playground. But the result was not to reduce smoking, only to relocate smokers into smaller areas, intensifying second-hand smoke in these areas to intolerable levels for passers-by and adjacent businesses.

Outdoor dining in the smoking areas fell off to next to nothing. Businesses in the smoking areas were forced to keep doors closed. Fights between non-smokers and smokers - about the borders and other issues - were daily, if not hourly, and spirited, when not vituperative or even violent.

Our business, Small World Music, inside Autumn Leaves Books, is on the border of the smoking/non-smoking areas. Originally we supported the partial ban (see our July 28 post here on Ithaca Blog), but can attest first-hand to the failure.

We support the ban, and commend city officials for so quickly recognizing and fixing the failed policy.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New York Pizzeria and the NFL

We went to Trumansburg today to help out at a benefit there, but with another, non-altruistic motive: to bring home a pie (large, of course) from New York Pizzeria.

Of course there is plenty of pizza in Ithaca and we like all of it nicely, but NY Pizzeria's is the best in the region, we think. We looked forward to stocking our freezer with a box of this rarefied product.

Imagine our shock and chagrin to find, at 2 p.m. (on our way home), that NYP does not open until 4 p.m. on Sundays.

We understand about day of rest, and all that. Still, we wonder what gives - this time of year, when the NFL provides televised spectacles all Sunday, starting at 1 p.m.

It seems to us that Sunday starting at 1 p.m. is probably the prime pizza-buying time of the week.

Not that we sit around and watch the NFL much, although we wish we did. But we look at it a little, and when we do, see plenty of ads for Papa John's pizzeria, and also frozen varieties.

It's bad enough that you have to watch these cheesy (ha) ads, but then not to have a flavorful and authentic alternative to their cruddy products? It's unfortunate.

Not for us to tell the NYP people how to run their shop. But they do name themselves after the city that never sleeps. Where is the "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere" spirit when it comes to day-long game-day pizza?

As a non-resident of the famously proud town, I'll keep my nose out of T-burg's business, beyond this. But I think it is time for a sit-down, or even a walk-and-talk over there, you know what I'm saying?

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, September 13, 2010

Seeing Signs For No Fracking

We had some friends from Brooklyn here for the weekend. Sunday we enjoyed the Porchfest in Fall Creek.

Most Ithacans probably take for granted the creativity behind such an event. Our friends didn't. They were impressed by the do-it-yourselfness and sociability.

As we strolled the neighborhood, what also came to light is the political activism in Ithaca. Alongside the "Porchfest" signs on many porches were "No Fracking" signs on lawns.

Our friends didn't know what this was. A quick explanation brought no flicker of recognition. But the next time they hear of it - which they inevitably will, downstate - they will remember.

The signs are a good way to spread the word about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing in our area. They are available for a $5 donation from the Shaleshock group organizing opposition to fracking.

Shaleshock's office space is in the Peace and Justice Center, on the 3rd floor 115 The Commons (in Autumn Leaves Books).

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rhinefest and Porchfest Weekend, Sept. 11 & 12

Ithaca is a festive place, and this weekend brings two newish but seemingly entrenched celebrations of Ithaca neighborhoods, one past and one present.

On Saturday, the 2nd annual Rhinefest honors the historic West End waterfront district, once a rough and tumble area known ironically as the Rhine. The festival features costumed street theater, a silent movie hall, an antique car show, and lake cruises. In the evening there is a "speakeasy" recreation at Castaways, featuring musical group the Bill Murray Experience.

On Sunday, the 4th annual Porchfest brings local musicians out of their houses and onto their porches for performance. More than 70 musical acts participate in the event, scheduled from 1 to 5:30 p.m., in the Fall Creek and Northside neighborhoods.

After the ambulatory listening, there will be picnics, and more music, in the Auburn Street triangle park.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog