Italian American Festival starts Friday
WATKINS GLEN--Family fun will be the focus at the 39th annual Schuyler County Italian American Festival Aug. 10-12 at Clute Park.
New vendors, more music each day and a host of special activities for children and adults are planned for Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. Organizations involved in that special Sunday session include the Watkins Glen Fire Department, Schuyler County Sheriff's Department, New York State Police, Head Start and Reisinger's Apple Country.
The Robert Rogers Puppet Co. returns with marionette shows, enjoyed by all ages. The performances will be hourly on Saturday and Sunday on center court in front of the pavilion. This year's title: "The Sorceress Alcina casts a Magic Spell."
"Our goal is to put the focus on children having fun with their families and friends," festival president Louis Perazzini of Watkins Glen said. Don Stocum of Hector is festival chairman.
"Young people have always had roles in the festival, with Boy Scouts helping to keep the park clean, kids marching in the parade or brave girls entering the pasta contest. And, of course, there are the carnival rides and games. The festival should be fun for everyone, and this year we're really trying to emphasize that," Perazzini said.
Leading the parade Saturday will be Festival Prince Tate Diliberto, 7, son of Joel and Katie Diliberto of Hector, and Festival Princess Arloween Loucks-Scuteri, 9, daughter of Daniel and Megan Scuteri of Watkins Glen.
Tony Vickio of Watkins Glen, sign artist, author, drone videographer and founder of Spirit of Schuyler, will be honored for his contributions to the county community as grand marshal of Saturday's popular parade.
Saturday's other highlight is the fireworks show over Seneca Lake at 10:15 p.m.
"We think it's the best show in the Finger Lakes," Perazzini said.
Bingo, the pasta-eating contest and a motorcycle show are all part of the festival weekend. The musical lineup is Rusted Bucks Band, 4 p.m. Friday; Guilty Pleasure, 8 p.m. Friday; The Ampersand Project, 4 p.m. Saturday; Rust, 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and Sam Pallet Band, 1 p.m. Sunday.
Proceeds from the annual festival, which celebrates the county's Italian heritage, are donated back into the community, and groups serving young people are at the top of the list. Benefitting from a successful 2017 event were Schuyler Head Start, My Place child care center, Schuyler County Youth Football Association, Labor of Love backpack program, Girl Scout Troops 41120 and 40807, Spirit of Schuyler, Watkins Glen Fire Company and the Humane Society of Schuyler County.
Except for the amusements, all entertainment is free. No admission to the festival is charged, and parking on Clute Park grounds is $5 per vehicle. The festival has plenty of handicapped parking spaces available.
As part of its emphasis on offering a family-friendly experience, the organizing committee has prohibited all outside alcoholic beverages from the festival grounds. Coolers and bags will be checked.
Local wines and beer will be available for purchase at the festival's beer garden, a designated area designed for festival-goers 21 and older.
The detailed schedule of the 39th annual Schuyler County Italian American Festival is available on the website at www.watkinsglenitalianamericanfestival.org.