Harborfest kicks off its four day weekend for hundreds of thousands


h the music blaring and the food sizzling, Harborfest is off to a great start.

Rick Paddock lives in Watertown. "It's just festive, it's really fast paced. You can relax and do whatever you want to do here," says Paddock.

This is one of the biggest free festivals in the country. It brings huge crowds to a small city with up to a quarter million people coming out to the four day festival.

Danielle Reese lives in Fair Haven. "You're on the lake, you get a beautiful view of Oswego. You get to see a lot of people, the scenery is great. All the food here the vendors, the bands here are awesome," says Reese.

In May the Bridge Street Run in Oswego was banned after one person died and two more overdosed on heroin. Steve Fulton is the Executive director of Harborfest. He says Harborfest is a separate and unrelated event, but he is still on full alert bringing in 80 private security officers for this weekend in addition to increasing the city's police presence during Harborfest.

"We heavily control what we're doing, and any of our beer consumption is in a fenced, secured, ID'd area," says Fulton.

2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Oswego when the British attacked Fort Ontario during the War of 1812. To commemorate this bicentennial the city is hosting a reenactment on Lake Ontario Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock filled with period ships, gunfire and cannons.

James Calvert just graduated from Oswego State. "I'm really kind of a nerd in history. Just seeing re-enactments are kind of cool, plus seeing the cannons fire, there will be lots of sound and with the music playing," says Calvert.

When fireworks light up the sky over Lake Ontario Saturday night at 9:30 it will be to commemorate another bi-centennial here at Harborfest, the writing on the Star Spangled Banner.