By Steve Yablonski
Harborfest leader enjoys staying busy with festival planning, horse farm
Peter Myles is happy to be back to work. The executive director of Oswego Harbor Festivals, Inc. is planning for this summer’s fest following a two-year hiatus.
Harborfest, a free admission outdoor music festival, attracts approximately 75,000 people to the Port City every summer.
Myles became the director of the festival in January 2016. In 2020 and 2021, however, the event was canceled due to the pandemic.
Harborfest along with Oswego’s Independence Day parade are both returning for 2022.
Myles said he is glad to be planning the festival again.
“We were very disappointed that we were unable to hold the festivals in 2020 and 2021,” he said. “However, we are delighted to be back for 2022 and hope to present a festival that the entire community will enjoy.”
Prior to taking the reins at Harborfest, he worked for the Oswego City School District for 34 years, retiring as the director of personnel.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better career,” he said. “Working for Harborfest is great. I am not looking for another career.”
“After the school district, I had to do something. I didn’t want to just sit around,” he explained. “Harborfest is a good ‘retirement’ for me. The job is not full-time. It’s basically a part-time job, but it’s busy for several months — not the whole year. That makes it nice. I enjoy it. It’s not like a regular five-day a week job.”
When he’s not involved with Harborfest, he’s tending to things at the family farm in New Haven.
“My wife, Janet, has a stable, she boards horses and gives lessons,” he said.
She operates MyleStone Farm. It is a horse farm that offers boarding and training, specializing in dressage, he said.
He has been taking care of things recently.
“She got hurt, so she’s out of commission for a while. She tore a rotator cuff, tore some of the tendons and a few muscles. So she’s taking it easy right now. I am taking good care of her; helping with things around the farm, tending to the horses.”
The couple will celebrate their 42nd anniversary this year.
They also have four chickens and two dogs: Cody (an akita), and Rocky (a boxer, hence the name).
“Rocky hates the cold. Cody loves it. It’s hard to keep Cody inside, he’d rather be outside,” he said. The two canines are ‘doorbells with a bark,’ Myles said.
“They alert us when someone is here — or just a squirrel running across the lawn,” he said.
MyleStone Farm is his wife’s business, he said, adding that he enjoys helping out.
“When you’re outside working, doing something, there’s nobody to bother you. It’s relaxing,” he said.
The long-time business has thrived for years, according to Myles.
“We’ve been here for 30 years. But we never have had to advertise. We have always had a full barn; just due to word of mouth. We have always kept busy,” he pointed out. “Some of our borders, it seems, have been here forever.”
“My wife does come down during Harborfest quite a bit to see how I’m doing,” he continued. “We never miss the fireworks. Before I became involved with Harborfest, we’d always watch the fireworks from the fort. It’s a good place. We live in New Haven and the fort is on the east side of Oswego so that made it a good place for us to watch. Then, when the fireworks were over we could walk downtown and check out what was going on. ”
They don’t check out other festivals, he added. “Harborfest is it for us.”
Excited for 2022
”Right now, we are in the office Mondays and Tuesdays. We have all our bands, all the contracts signed except for one — headliner for Friday night. Hopefully that’ll be done [soon],” he said in early March. “After being out for two years we think that we’ve got a good festival in the works this year. Most of the bands that will be performing are ones that were going to perform in 2020.
We’re moving right along. The city is very supportive; the mayor’s office and all the departments. Without the city’s help it would be very difficult to pull off Harborfest.”
They are expecting 75,000 people to attend.
Harborfest will return this summer after a two-year hiatus. The free outdoor music festival attracts over 75,000 people to the Port City annually.
“I enjoy working with the staff, board of directors and others in the community to plan for and organize the festival,” he added. “The festival wouldn’t be possible without the support from our generous sponsors and members, several city of Oswego and Oswego County offices and departments.”
What does he enjoy about the festival itself?
“The music, food, fireworks and speaking with all the people during the festival,” he said.
He said he really doesn’t have a favorite food. “I enjoy eating,” he said.
But when it comes to Harborfest food, “I like Utica greens and Italian sausage with peppers and onions,” he added.
He describes his managerial philosophy as “Highly collaborative. I enjoy working with people and I like to get things done.”
“The qualities I have that I believe make me a good executive director are the same ones that make a person a good person or a good employee: strong work ethic, honest, good sense of humor, positive attitude, confident, ability to recognize and acknowledge a job well done and good decision-making skills,” he explained.
Who has influenced him the most?
“This is a difficult one,” he replied. “So many people have influenced me over the years including my parents, teachers, college professors and bosses.”
When he isn’t organizing a festival for thousands of people or tending to a stable full of horses, Myles said he likes bicycle riding, walking, hiking and snowshoeing.
If he could choose any performer for Harborfest’s opening night, who would he pick?
“Not very realistic, Tim McGraw or Bon Jovi. But, you asked!” he said.
This year’s Harborfest will be held July 28 through 31, throughout Oswego; highlighted by the world-class Grucci fireworks display Saturday night over the Oswego Harbor.
Name: Peter Myles
Position: Executive director, Oswego Harbor Festivals, Inc.
Birth Place: Oneida
Residence: New Haven
Education: Bachelor’s degree from LeMoyne College; master’s degree and certificate of advanced studies from SUNY-Oswego
Family: Wife (Janet), one daughter and a grandson