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Italian American Festival returns for 30th year

WATKINS GLEN—The Schuyler County Italian American Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, July 31 to Aug. 2 at Clute Park.
The festival grounds will open Friday at 1 p.m. One of the day’s highlights is the pasta-eating contest presented by the Watkins Glen Business and Professional Women and Seneca Harbor Station. The contest, open to anyone of any age, will be at 5:30 p.m. at the Food Tent. Buford and Smokin’ Section of the Rochester area will perform their blues-charged rock ’n’ roll at the Entertainment Tent from 8 p.m. to midnight.
The parade is Saturday at noon. It will feature more than 70 groups, including the return of the St. Joe’s Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps of Leroy, N.Y., which made its Italian American Festival debut five years ago. The parade route will be from Watkins Glen High School to Clute Park. The reviewing stand will again be at Lafayette Park. After the parade, many of the participants will offer additional performances at the Entertainment Tent.
Music Saturday night will be by Ragged Sole, a cover band. The show will be from 8 p.m. to midnight. The festival’s fireworks will be Saturday at 10:15 p.m.  A special 30th anniversary show is planned.
Sunday’s highlight is the new Nick Preston Memorial Motorcycle Extravaganza. Motorcyclists and motorcycle fans are invited, starting at noon. One of the special features will be a demonstration by motorcycle trials riders.
Also on Sunday, the Schuyler County Teen Center will present the Lakeside Skate Park Competition, also starting at noon. The competitors will perform stunts on skateboards, roller blades and bicycles.
Once again this year, outside alcoholic beverages are prohibited from the festival grounds. Local wines and ice cold beer will be available for purchase at the festival’s beer garden, a designated area for festival-goers 21 and older.
The annual event offers carnival rides and games, music, marching bands, skate park stunts, a huge variety of food and a pasta-eating contest. The Tony Tallarida Memorial Bocce Tournament will be returning as well, Aug. 1 and 2.
Except for the amusements, all of the entertainment is free. There is no admission to the festival, and parking on Clute Park grounds is only $5 per vehicle. The festival has plenty of handicapped parking spaces available. All proceeds from the festival are returned to the community through donations and scholarships.
For more about any aspect of the festival, including participating in the parade or the bocce tournament, see the festival Web site at or contact festival chairman Charlie Scaptura at

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