ITHACA, N.Y. — At least 60 people turned out for the first-of-its-kind Ithaca Festival Kickoff Party Tuesday night Cinnemapolis in anticipation of the yearly event, which drew in more than 8,000 people last year.

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Food, festival merchandise and the official release of this year’s map and events were served up while music videos from this year’s performers played on the theater screen.

“We wanted to release our merchandise and schedule and program and stuff in a fun way,” Assistant Director McKenzie Jones Rounds said. “This seemed like a good way to get everyone on the same page.”

“We’re very excited about the festival this year,” said Executive Director Ben Greenberg.

He said another first for the festival includes joining forces with the Greater Ithaca Activities Center to expand the festival’s footprint. GIAC, which usually hosts its own festival the following weekend, is launching it instead the same weekend as the Ithaca Festival.

The Gunpoets,  The Sim Redmond Band and children involved with GIAC will be among weekend-long performers in an area across from GIAC.

The festival is also slated to happen of Friday this year instead of Thursday. According to the event website, the change was prompted because organizers wanted the excitement from the parade to spill directly into festival activities, which includes performances in the newly finished Commons.

Greenberg said all the performances he’s seen happen at the space have an incredible energy and organizers are excited to be able to start using the space, including the Bernie Milton Pavilion.

The festival theme this year is Mix It Up, a tip to organizers’ work to make the event inclusive of people and interests throughout the entire community.

Related: View the entire Ithaca Festival schedule and map

Correction: This story initially incorrectly stated that performers will be performing in Washington Park. 

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