What started as cellist Kyle Barrett Price’s casual invitation to eight musician friends to come play at his grandmother’s lake home has grown into a festival that brings big-name performers to Fulton County. Over the past decade, world-class musicians from across the globe have flocked to the shores of Caroga Lake to be a part of the Caroga Arts Collective’s (CAC) annual summer music festival, which provides free performances in a variety of genres for thousands of concertgoers.
Last year, the CAC celebrated its tenth anniversary, while its primary venue, the iconic former Sherman’s Amusement Park, commemorated its centennial. The CAC has much to celebrate, as the nonprofit received a $1 million grant from the New York State Council on the Arts that will fund a portion of the organization’s Phase 1 capital project.
After bringing its main building at Sherman’s up to code so that it can be used for public events, including free rides during every concert on its historic carousel, the organization is now working on plans to build an amphitheater venue at Sherman’s between the main building and the bumper car pavilion.
Price has been working with Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation, LLP in Albany on designs for the new performance space. The firm has extensive experience, having designed dozens of cultural spaces including Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, and the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs
The new stage would be large enough to seat an entire orchestra, which will be a fitting addition to CAC’s facilities, as it debuted its first major symphony orchestra concert in 2022 featuring Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.
The plans also include space for educational and community events, such as the National Summer Cello Institute, where professors from The Julliard School, Eastman School of Music, and University of Wisconsin at Madison instruct the 25 top cellists from around the country.
Another aspect of Phase I is transforming MyHil, the former 10-acre estate of the Schine theater-magnate family into a year-round dwelling with eight bedrooms and four bathrooms to host artists, and also to provide office space.
“Our organization in general provides accessibility to world–class performances and events—being up close with the artists, living among the artists, being able to interact with them,”
The summer music festival continues to draw major performers to the area. For example, the 2022 festival featured the Bacon Brothers as well as Grammy-nominated musician Cory Wong.
Price points out that Kevin Bacon does not perform much anymore, but he found something inviting about being at Sherman’s. “It’s the unique draw that the area has through its beauty and generosity in the community,” Price said. “People are kind and welcoming. We want to bring people from the outside in to have them be part of this ecosystem of sorts.”
The festival extends beyond the shores of the lake to several other venues in the greater Capital Region and Mohawk Valley with a variety of performances. “We go to anything from concert halls to churches to bars to barges,” Price said. “It’s a huge mix, and it’s our way of reaching out to the community and coming to them,” he said, noting that the concerts have connected people from different cities and towns, creating a larger sense of community overall.
The CAC’s offerings include more than music. The organization hosts the InterArts Symposium where 10 artists, some from as far as California, come together to collaborate with other visiting artists and community members. They share their film, visual art, poetry, and music through special events.
Price is always on the lookout for opportunities to partner with other organizations to reach new audiences and bring activity and culture to Fulton County. “We want to see how we can be of service to the greater region,” Price said. “It just helps to strengthen us all.”