June 6, 2011


Water Fest marks its 20th year

WaterJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Phyllis Guest of the Cortland County Health Department pours out samples of water on Saturday during a blind taste testing of water from area municipalities at the Cortland Water Festival.

Staff Reporter

Cortland resident James Withers took sips from seven individual cups, each filled with water from an anonymous local municipality.
“I liked the last cup because it seemed to have no taste at all,” Withers said. “For water, that is a good thing.”
The taste test was part of the 20th annual Cortland County Water Festival, a family event that celebrates water and its various uses. The event takes place at the grounds of the city Water Works building on Broadway.
“The event is basically about providing awareness of water,” said Michael Catalano, the event organizer from the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District. “We’ve got a great resource. We are blessed with great clean water and a sole source aquifer that needs to be protected.”
Catalano said it is easy to take water for granted but it “affects our lives” every day. He estimated that about 600 people attended the festival this year, which is comparable to previous years.
The event was a celebration of everything water: Children played trivia games about aquatic life, made large star-shaped bubbles from a tub of soapy water and listened to city firefighters talk about how much water they use to put out a fire.
Dozens of people went on horse-drawn wagon rides while others submitted their vote for the best water in Cortland County.
Phyllis Guest, a public health sanitarian for the county Health Department, said seven local municipalities provided water for the anonymous taste test.
The seven involved were Virgil, Homer, Cortland, Cincinnatus, Marathon, McGraw and Cortlandville. Virgil won by one vote over Homer, 23-22. Cortlandville took third with 17 votes.
Guest said the winner from the taste test would move on to the regional competition and then potentially to the State Fair in August.
“It’s quite the recognition for the municipality to be named the best tasting in the county,” Guest said.
Lotte Hammond, of Cortland, said that she liked the water from the fifth cup the best, which happened to come from Marathon.
“It didn’t have any side taste,” she said.
Another festival-goer, Steve McKown liked the third cup of water, which was from the city of Cortland. McKown was visiting from North Carolina with his 4-year-old daughter Abby.
“The water is a lot better up here,” he said.
The festival is sponsored by the county Soil and Water Conservation District and is supported by other agencies such as the county Health Department, city Water Department, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County and other groups. About 50 volunteers help with the event every year.
Heather Jackson spent time at the water festival with her two children, Danny and AnnMarie. She said her daughter was looking forward to taking a ride on the horse carriage.
“It’s nice and it’s fun,” Jackson said. “There’s lots of stuff here for the little ones to enjoy.”

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