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Onondaga Cup and Lakefest: A New Summer Celebration

When Syracuse was incorporated in the early 19th century, it was a hub for salt production and shipping. Today, the city’s festivals and attractions make it a great family-friendly destination. The destination is home to Syracuse University, which offers visitors a variety of world-class athletic events and unique community events. Make time in your schedule for a visit to Destiny USA, New York's largest shopping and entertainment megaplex that features more than 250 stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues.


The Onondaga Cup and Lakefest has established a dedicated following of thousands of people in only its second year. The Lakefest will take place July 22-23 at Onondaga Lake Park, which is directly on the shores of Willow Bay. The event will feature activities and entertainment for all ages with patrons able to compete in a variety of races including, rowing, kayaking, paddle boarding, as well as a variety of outdoor fitness classes right on the lakefront. A Kids Zone will feature games, rides, and activities for all ages and a scavenger hunt will also be available. Whether you're tasting crafts beers at the beer tent or buying handmade items in the vendor area, this event has something for everyone. A portion of the event’s proceeds will go to the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corp that leads the effort to keep Onondaga Lake clean. We got the chance to interview Katie Wegerski, a representative of the event, to learn more about this great community celebration.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

KW: This is the second year of the event.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

KW: Last year we had 12,000 attendees for a one-day event, and we anticipate 50,000 people for this year’s two-day event.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

KW: There is something for everyone from craft beer tasting to a kids zone with bounce houses and ice cream. For the fitness enthusiasts, there will be paddling races, free outdoor yoga, barre and CrossFit exercise classes. For the foodies, the event will feature a variety of food vendors and the opportunity to watch the CHOBANI Culinary Competition which is similar to Top Chef. Charitable betting will take place on Saturday, and attendees can take a guess at which company will win the Onondaga Cup corporate challenge. The winner will walk away with two JetBlue round-trip flight tickets! Live music will be performed by five amazing bands both days of the event and we will even have the appearance of the LL Bean Boot Mobile! There is something for everyone to enjoy!


RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.

KW: People can watch or compete in the rowing, kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing and dragon board races (all age groups, genders, and levels of expertise are available).

Additional activities include:

  • Free Outdoor Fitness Classes  

  • Live Music

  • Culinary Competitions

  • Charitable Betting

  • Scavenger Hunt,

  • Pedal Bar Bike Rides (Only Cost $5, and Include a Flight of Summer Beers)

  • Vendors

  • Kids Zone

  • Wine Pavilion

  • Raffles

  • VIP experience that includes open bar, clambake dinners, brunches, and more


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

KW: We have a real mermaid coming. Plus, we have some additional guest appearances in the works.


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

KW: A variety of food vendors will be onsite, or people can buy a ticket to the Onondaga Lake Clean Up Team Pavilion, which will include a bar and catered brunch, lunch, and dinner. Attendees can purchase a one-day pass or a two-day pass.


RAL: What is the overall environment like?

KW: It's a beautiful park setting with a fun and family friendly atmosphere. There are ample picnic tables and room to bring a blanket and chairs. There is also grandstand seating at the finish line area so people can watch all the races and the culinary competitions.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

KW: Yes, call the Maplewood. They have a special for all Onondaga Cup & Lakefest attendees. People can call the hotel (315-451-1511) to book a stay and refer to the group code of OCLAKE – Onondaga Cup & LakeFest.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

KW: This is a celebration of the revival of Onondaga Lake. We hope to demonstrate that Onondaga Lake can be home to large scale rowing regattas and lakeside events. We hope this event increases tourism and economic development to the area.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

KW: Yes, the event supports the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corp, which heads up the effort of keeping the lake clean.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

KW: People should come to this event because there is nothing else like it! It's “Saratoga Horse Races” meet a regatta and community festival. There are so many activities that appeal to a vast audience and attendees have the ability to partake in the activities that interest them most!


For more information about the Onondaga Cup and Lakefest, please visit the event website.