What is Overpass Fest?

posted in: Christiano, Pulse of CNY | 0

Overpass Fest: Where local creatives come together

We humans are social animals.  We value community and we seek shared experiences. Edward M. “Ned” Hallowell, a child and adult psychiatrist (and best-selling author) talks at considerable length about the powerful connection that occurs when people gather together. Hallowell often cites studies showing how introverted personalities who pretend to be extroverts for the sake of an event or function have become much happier individuals as a result of their pretending.

I recently had the pleasure of joining a group of people for Overpass Fest, which has been described as “…a fully walkable/rollable interactive version of ‘Pandora’ or ‘Spotify’ where you can walk or ride your own setlist.”  Overpass Fest is more accurately a free-form meet-up of local artists, poets, singers, musicians, and photographers, who come together on Thursdays along the Onondaga Creekwalk in Franklin Square, to perform, collaborate and enjoy the beauty of art and entertainment in an outdoor environment.

Organizing events like is not always easy, but Overpass Fest choreographer Michael John Heagerty excels at bringing people together for such events. Heagerty has his finger on the pulse of almost everything in and around Syracuse.  Chances are if there is something of significance and popularity happening in Syracuse, Heagerty will have something to do with its creation or implementation. He is involved with the Big Yellow Fellow Barcycle Tours in downtown Syracuse (which were a big hit at the New York State Fair last year) and with InfinitePop, a pop-up shop that Heagerty has described as a celebration of local artists and the anti-ordinary. It’s currently located at 183 Walton St., in Armory Square.

As I approached the gathering at Overpass Fest, the first thing I noticed was a man (a licensed clinical massage therapist) giving free massages. People were painting on a large white piece of paper that stretched almost 10 feet in length and around three feet in height.  People were dancing and singing in a communal circle — improvisational and jam-band style.  Others were drawing with chalk on the walls, contributing their own talents to the artistic expressions of the group.  The experience of Overpass Fest is contagious, and I found myself moved by the artists and musicians.

In the future, Heagerty hopes there will be almost a continuous, fair-style community that loops around Onondaga Lake, all expressing themselves and entertaining through the arts.  This would be a tall task, but if there is one thing Heagerty is known for it is making his dreams and visions come true.  The people of Syracuse are a strong bunch.  We endure so much cold, snow, and gray skies throughout the year.  For me, it is inspiring to see such a group of artists and entertainers coming together outdoors and sharing their talents with the community.

What makes the Overpass Fest so enticing and necessary is what it offers to the people involved.  Would you like to express yourself through a specific art form?  Come down and express yourself.  Would you like help coming out of your shell?  Come down and participate anyway you’d like.  Would you like to simply enjoy the environment and soak in the music?  Come down and soak away.  All are welcome to Overpass Fest, as participants or observers.  Michael John Heagerty has created something truly unique, truly beautiful, and truly Syracuse.

Overpass Fest takes shape 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays along the Onondaga Creekwalk in Franklin Square. It’s free and open to all. 

– Anthony Christiano