July 16, 2016

Willow Bay (Onondaga Lake Park)

11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

About the Free Event

Syracuse natives may remember the Onondaga Lake “Ya Gotta Regatta” event which took place from the early ‘50s the late ‘90s. It was a wildly popular, collegiate event.

The new, 2016 event – The Onondaga Cup & Lakefest – is a twist on that nostalgic regatta. It’s an all-day event with rowing, kayak and paddleboard competition amidst an onshore festival. 

It’s also:

  • The first celebration of the rebirth of Onondaga Lake.
  • The first regatta of its kind in Central New York – with the final races happening at night under the lights, complete with watercrafts and athletes outfitted with LED lights.
  • A corporate regatta pitting company rowing teams against each other and independent kayakers and paddleboarders facing off.

And, it’s an onshore gala, celebrating the athletes, the sport, and the lake with food, wine, beer, music and art.

The Competition

The competition. Sixteen corporate sponsored row teams and independent kayakers and paddleboarders will compete throughout the day. The finalists will race at night, under the lights. Spotlights will light up the course – watercrafts will be outfitted with LED running lights for an epic duel of the top two crews, paddleboarders & kayakers. The sponsored row teams are graduates of the Syracuse CHARGERS Corporate Rowing League.  The kayaking and paddle board races are open to anyone over age 18. Registration is first come, first serve basis.

The Festival

The festival. Wine tastings, artisans, music, food and beverage vendors, selling everything from ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, kettle corn to cheeses, wine slushies, beer and more. Gaming is part of the history of rowing regattas. Teams traditionally bet their team shirts and must turn over their attire to the winning teams.  We’ll carry on the gaming tradition with a twist. We’ll set up some charitable betting – with the proceeds going to Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps.

 The Onondaga Cup & LakeFest is at Willow Bay (Onondaga Lake Park) and is free to the public. A ticketed area at the finish line is where a clambake dinner, wine tastings, music, and cooking competitions and demonstrations are planned. Think Kentucky Derby meets Syracuse shoreside: Ladies grab your hats! Ticket sales for this area will begin April 24.

Syracuse Chargers Logo

The competitors.The rowers are part of the Syracuse CHARGERS seven-week corporate rowing league, that runs from the end of May through the middle of July. Those 24 league teams will compete at the regatta –  some of them are completely new to the sport. They will have practiced once a week, learning and improving the rowing stroke.

The CHARGERS recognizes the need that employers have to promote teamwork, health, wellness and camaraderie among their employees. The Corporate program was created to provide companies with an opportunity to learn and apply these skills in the context of Olympic style rowing on our beautiful Onondaga Lake and surrounding waters. The Corporate Rowing League will run from the end of May through the middle of July and culminates with the July 16 Onondaga Cup & Lakefest. Any organization, company, school, church, or other affiliated group may participate. No experience necessary. For seven weeks, once per week, teams will spend time learning  and improving the rowing stroke from the ground level.


Companies racing in the regatta

• O’Brien & Gere – Boat 1

•O’Brien & Gere – Boat 2

• Ferrara Siemens

• Byrne Dairy

• Lockheed Martin – Boat 1

• Lockheed Martin – Boat 2

• Onondaga County Parks

• King + King Architects

• Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists

• Terakeet

• Cicero-North Syracuse & Liverpool High Schools

• North Syracuse Central School District

• Parsons

• Anchor QEA

• Syracuse Media Group

• Inficon

The Big Guest

The duck

By popular vote, THE WORLD’S LARGEST RUBBER DUCK will be called CUSEY during her CNY visit

This giant duck will cruise Onondaga Lake and kick off the July 16 Onondaga Cup & LakeFest races

Here’s a little about her:

  • She’s 60-feet-tall and weighs 22,000 pounds.
  • She was born in Sandusky, OH and travels by flat-bed truck.
  • Summer is her favorite season, she loves to swim and favors hot tubs.
Sponsors of the duck

A special thanks to our friends of the duck:

Sponsors of the duck

An unforgettable day of competition, fun & excitement

Come be a part of something great


On June 21, 1952, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Regatta was held on Onondaga Lake for the first time. For the previous 50 years, it had been hosted primarily on the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie.

The official program cost 50 cents.  In 1952 Nash Ramblers were the official regatta cars. The program included ads from Syracuse China, Schlitz Beer, Nettleton Shoes, Ballantine Beer and New Process Gear.  The program touted “Giant G-E Loudspeakers Announce Races.” They used a ship-to-shore radio communications systems from General Electric, that was valued at more than $5,000.

In June 1978, Syracuse University’s eight-man varsity crew won its first national IRA Championship in half a century in front of a hometown audience at Onondaga Lake. In the 1990s, the IRA Regatta left Onondaga Lake for Camden, N.J.

Schedule of Events

11 a.m.  –  Start of the event

  • Vendors and food trucks open.
  • Kids Zone opens

11:15 a.m.  –  Flyboard Demonstration

Want to fly like a super hero? Come get high with all in adventures flyboading. We are cny and the 1000 island regions original flyboard experience. We are located at the Pointe at Bonnie Castle resort, directly across from the majestic boldt Castle. We provide an experience unparalleled to anything else in the 1000 island and cny region. All of our crew hold there captains licenses and are certified flyboard instructors. So check us out at allinadventures.net to book your flight or party today!!


Vendors and food trucks selling food, wine, beer, wine slushies and merchandisers open for business while the races begin.

Kids Zone opens: A variety of inflatable activities including a bounce house, obstacle course and more. Along with food, and kettle corn, and cotton candy.

All this happens under the watchful eye of the World’s Largest Duck who will be anchored on the West end of Onondaga Lake, where the races begin.

12:30 p.m.  –  Round 1 – Heats (Masters)

1 p.m. – 3 p.m.  –  Rabbit in the Rye performs on the FedEx Ground stage

A progressive folk rock trio from Hamilton. This band is a SAMMY Award-winning band who has produced two albums. Chris Baker from syracuse.com and The Post-Standard wrote about them …”that’s what folk singers do: they tell stories. And Rabbit in the Rye are masters of the form.”

Rabbit in the Rye Band

1:30 p.m.  –  Stand-up paddleboard demonstration

2 p.m.  –  Tory the Mermaid takes a swim

Yes, a bona fide mermaid will swim part of the race course, then be available to chat with festival attendees.

Mermaid Tory

2:30 p.m.  –  Round 2 – Heats (Corporate)

3 to 6  p.m.  –  Los Blancos performs on the FedEx Ground stage

“Roots, Zydeco, Funk & Roll Guaranteed to Fill a Hole in Your Soul.” How to describe a band that fits no classification? It’s a whole lot of Blues, Soul, Latin, Rockin’ Zydeco, Outlaw Country, Folk and Funk.  Be there.

Los Blancos

4 p.m.  –  Round 3 – Semi-Finals (Masters)

5 p.m.  –  Round 4 – Heats (Kayak/Paddleboard)

6 p.m.  –  Joe Whiting Band performs on the FedEx Ground stage

Joe Whiting Band

6:30 p.m.  –  Round 5 – Finals (Masters)

7:15 p.m.  –  Round 6 – Quarter-Finals (Corporate)

8:15 p.m.  –  Round 7 – Semi-Finals (Masters)

9 p.m.  –  Round 8 – Finals

Top two row teams, kayakers and paddleboarders duel under the lights. For the first time, an evening regatta where top finalists battle it out under spotlights, with their watercraft outfitted with LED lights.

9:30 p.m.  –  Trophy Presentation

Ticketed Area

Onondaga Cup Pavilion brought to you by the Onondaga Lake Cleanup Team

Spend your day at a sensational afternoon and evening party during the Onondaga Cup & Lakefest, on Saturday July 16. 2016. The Onondaga Cup is fast becoming the most dazzling and exciting social fixture of the summer season.Fancy Hats

A ticket to the Onondaga Cup Pavilion indulges guests in a comfortably, shady area to what the races – complete with entertainment and refreshments. Take in a few races before sitting down for a day of cocktails and culinary competition tastings. As evening approaches, enjoy a clambake dinner, open bar and a party atmosphere, all on the shore of water, with a great view of the races finish line.

Here’s what’s happening in this ticketed area:

11 a.m.: Jump start the morning with coffee pastries and music by the DJ Stay Gold

Noon – First round of a live culinary competition (with tastings) by Farm to Fork, featuring four chefs

Deanna Germano, from Chef 4 Rent; Anthony Donofrio from Modern Malt; Sean Galloway from Clear Path for Veterans, and Elias Kushner from Main Street Farms.  Celebrity Chef Julie Taboulie will be among the judges. Guests can purchase raffle tickets to win a 5 course tasting dinner from Chef Steve Samuels & Chance Bear of the Lincklaen House. All proceeds from the Chef raffle will benefit Clear Path for Veterans.  4 chefs – for cooking competition

  • Beer, wine and soda bar opens
  • Food station of cheese, vegetable crudité, fresh hummus, fruits & berries, bruschetta, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers.

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. – Second round of live culinary competition by Farm to Fork

3 – 4 p.m. – Final round of culinary competition by Farm to Fork

4:30 – 9 p.m. – Live music by the Blacklites

One of the area’s greatest party bands. It’s an R&B/Soul group playing music that comes from the “soul” and funk that keeps you moving.

5:30 – 8 p.m. – Full open bar and clambake dinner begins

chef-attended carving stations of slow roasted Top Sirloin of beef, oven roasted turkey with cracked peppercorn demi-glace; stone-ground mustard and horsey mayonnaise served with silver dollar rolls. Also, clam chowder, Syracuse salt potatoes, corn on the cob, shrimp, pasta salads, steamed clams with drawn butter.

Signature Cocktail

The specialty cocktail of the evening, the Fenimore Flyer Cocktail, and is provided by Cooperstown Distillery:  A chilled, refreshing, drink of Cooperstown Fenimore Gin, Crème de Violette liquer, Luxardo Cherry Liquer, fresh grapefruit juice, served with a twist. (One specialty drink ticket per guest.) Cooperstown Distillery will also sample some of their other specialty drinks as well for purchase as well.)

6 p.m. – Charity Raffle from culinary competition ends

Raffle benefits Clear Path for Veterans, an organization that empowers service members, veterans, and their families through supportive programs and services.

9 p.m. – Final kayak, paddleboard and crew races, under the lights!  Followed by the trophy presentation.


Culinary competition sponsored by:

Farm to Fork Logo
Farm to Fork Logo

Special thanks to:

Farm to Fork Logo
Main Street Farms Logo
Renzi Food Service Logo
Suburban Propane Logo
WW Longhorn Ranch Logo

Map & Parking

What’s the best way to get to the regatta?

Take a free shuttle and leave your car behind at Destiny! Pick up the shuttle by the Carousel entrance at Destiny. (It loops from Destiny, to Willow Bay, to the Syracuse Nationals show at the NYS Fairgrounds.) Or, park at Long Branch or the former Syroco parking lot on John Glenn and Farrell Roads (behind Dunkin Donuts) and shuttle in from there. There’s a fee for parking, but all the shuttles are free. (Shuttles end at 9:45 p.m.)



Bracket Top

Onondaga Lake Cleanup Team

Bracket Bottom

The Food


  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Truck: Iconic Vermont based ice cream, known for its supreme quality and unique flavors.
  • Carvel Ice Cream – Dewitt: Soft ice cream, Hot Fudge Sundaes, milkshakes, and soda floats
  • Ma & Pa’s Kettle Corn & Lemonade Refreshers, The Spud Shack: With three different stands – Kettle corn, Lemonade, ribbon fries, curly fries, cheese fries, sweet potato fries

Specialty Food

  • Cheese Filled Company: Cheese filled gourmet products; cheese-filled pepperoni in many different flavors from mild to wild. Also Dilly Dawg, a cheese-filled, deli-size dill pickle filled with a blend of cheeses.
  • Dutch Hill Maple: Maple syrup, maple cream and molded maple sugar. There’s nothing like real maple syrup!
  • Grassy Cow Dairy: Farm fresh cheese curds (their cows make the milk they make the cheese).
  • Olive on Brooklea: Premium fresh olive oils and balsamic vinegars from all over the world; pumpkin seeds and bread dipping spices.
  • Saratoga Crackers: Hand-shaped, artisan crackers: savory, spicy, cheesy, vegan, wheat free, and sweet.


  • The Bite Box Food Truck: Chicken and waffles, pork chill-a-Verde tacos with cilantro, lime coleslaw, sliders, grilled sandwiches, poutine, and more.
  • The Black Olive: Gyros, Souvlakis, salad, platters meat and salad, hummus, tzatziki
  • Cam’s Pizzeria: Cheese and pepperoni pizza, Coca-Cola beverages
  • Mami’s Kitchen: Latin Cuisine; empanadas, tostones, rice & beans, and more! 
  • Columbus Baking Co.: Small, old world bakery. Serving the best Italian bread from its bakery that is over 115 years old! They will be serving meatball heels and fried dough
  • Cue Dogs: Hot dogs, burgers, Philly steaks, fries, chicken tenders, sausage, drinks.
  • Dr. B’s Barbeque: Prime barbecue.
  • Kiki’s Authentic Greek: Tzatziki fries, gyros, shish-kabob, spankopita, Greek salads.
  • Lao Village: Laotian and Thai Food
  • Limp Lizard Liverpool: Pulled pork sandwich, salt potato’s, baked beans, waters.
  • Main Street Farms: Healthy, fresh veggies.
  • Recess Coffee: Cold brew coffee, hot coffee, baked goods, sandwiches and salads.
  • Salt City Food Truck: Steak Burger w/ chips, BLT, Asian pulled pork, Hoffman hot dogs w/ dill sauce.
  • Shattuck’s Paddy Wagon, Inc.: Chicken Changa, Philly Changa-Philly cheese, falafel wrap, falafel tots, Sriracha tots, Texas tots.
  • Shukkers Hot Roasted Corn: Hot-roasted corn on the cob, with butter or spicy butter.
  • Via Napoli Express: Wood-fired specialty Italian pizza, grain bowls.
  • Wolf’s Patio: Wood-fired artisan, gourmet Neapolitan style pizza.
  • Wrap It Up Express: Various chicken, steak, and veggie wraps. Various hot sandwiches and melts



  • Coco Bongos: Frozen drinks  sold in collectible containers – cups to hand-carved coconuts.
  • CoreLife Eatery: Free lemonade samples.
  • Lakeland Winery: Tasting and selling a variety of wines. Including Riesling, Traminette, Cayuga, Fresh Blueberry, and Concord
  • Pazdar Winery: Variety of wines by the glass
  • Smoothies Plus: Real fruit smoothies, frozen coffee drinks.


  • Boat Works Ltd: Displaying paddleboards, kayaks and demos.
  • Cloud City Comics & Toys: Comic books and toys.
  • C.R. Fletcher Associates: Specializes in the search and recruitment of superior talent for our customers.
  • CSM Finishing: Add the finishing touches to make your house a home! Offer Sierra Stone, Rubber Stone and carpentry services
  • Fine Design: Provides imprinted apparel for on-site customization
  • FOCUS Greater Syracuse: A citizen-driven organization that taps citizen creativity and citizen engagement to impact change in Central New York.
  • Infinity Wellness Center: Chair massages
  • Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing: Provide information on damp / wet basements, offer free basement inspections
  • Mosquito Authority: Specialists in mosquito and tick removal.
  • Nickels Energy Solutions: Solar panel installer for residential and commercial buildings
  • Panda Wear: Hand crafted gemstone jewelry. Lapidary and jewelry designer with gemstone and small wearable works of art
  • Sprint by Nexgen Wireless: Cell phone services
  • Stone’s Marina – No Waves Now Worries SUP + Kayak Rentals: Paddleboards, paddles plus accessories, waterbottles and apparel.
  • Syracuse University Athletics
  • Woodbine Hospitality: Promoting our four properties with giveaways

Kid’s Zone

  • FunFlicks: Popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, and more!
  • OMG Face and Body Art: Professional Face Painting, Balloon Twisting and Airbrush Tattoos
  • Seaway Valley Jumpers: Your source for the best quality inflatables

Charitable Betting

Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps

In true regatta tradition, a gaming area will allow for charitable betting on your favorite corporate row team. The money will go to the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps.

The Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps is an expanding organization of community volunteers who are contributing to restoration projects that are creating or improving wildlife habitat in the Onondaga Lake watershed. The Corps seeks to inspire future stewards of Onondaga Lake and its watershed through a hands-on, experience-based program that offers citizens and organizations the opportunity to participate in activities that help restore and sustain Onondaga Lake and its value as an Important Bird Area. Since its formation in 2012, more than 600 community members have participated in Corps events.

To learn more about the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps or participate in future activities, please contact montezuma@audubon.org or call 315-365-3588. Schools, community groups, local organizations, and individuals are welcome. Like the Corps on Facebook or visit YouTube to learn more.


Five FAQs about the Onondaga Cup & LakeFest

  1. Do I have to pay to park? Only if you plan to park at the event itself. You can use the free Destiny shuttle, which starts at Destiny (by the Carousel entrance), stops Willow Bay and continues on to the Syracuse Nationals at the NYS Fairgrounds. Free and easy way to hit two great events in one day! Or, you can park at Long Branch Park or at the Syroco lot, for a fee.
  2. What should I bring? Picnic tables and some benches are around the park, but BYO blanket or a chair to truly enjoy at day lakeside. Comfy shoes, as the event spreads out nearly a half mile! Sunblock….and a healthy appetite, there’s so much food and drink!
  3. Where and when can I see the duck? Cusey will be fully inflated by 11 a.m. Saturday. You’ll definitely be able to see her from anywhere in the park (and across the lake)!
  4. Is a mermaid really coming? Yes! Not only will she swim, but she’ll pose for selfies with you afterwards!
  5. Is it free? Yes! More than 50 vendors – food, drink, fun things and services. Plus on-water entertainment, a close up and personal selfie opp with a 61-foot duck and live music. For those who want a more private experience there’s a ticketed area with its own all-day food, music and entertainment schedule.

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