Parade, fireworks, festival foods and more
WATKINS GLEN--When it comes to wine, pasta and sauce, some of the area's best pairings for these items are the fireworks, parade and live music of the village's annual Italian American Festival. The 36th annual festival will run for three days this weekend at Clute Park in Watkins Glen. The event starts Friday, July 31 and will go until Sunday, Aug. 2. Weekend highlights will include the annual parade, pasta eating contest, music, rides and a fireworks display.
Festival Chairman Don Stocum said thousands of people attend the festival each year. This year several new features have been added. Stocum said he is confident this will be a good year for the festival, adding a clear weekend of weather will make things even better. Stocum mentioned the more new features that are offered, the more the festival can grow.
"We are hoping and expecting it to be as good as always, if not better," Stocum said. "[...] We need to grow it to make it more successful so we can continue to have this year after year."
This year in the parade there will be 45 participating units, including floats, bands, the grand marshal and the festival prince and princess. The parade will take place along Decatur and Fourth Streets at noon Saturday. A fireworks display will also be featured over Seneca Lake starting at 10:15 p.m. Saturday evening.
Stocum said the new offerings include the L'Osteria marketplace in the Watkins Glen Community Center across from Clute Park. L'Osteria will feature Italian food, an Italian bakery and a bistro offering local wines. Dominic Versage will be playing live Italian music. A homemade wine and homemade sauce competition in L'Osteria will also be held over the weekend. The wine competition will be held Saturday and the sauce competition Sunday.
A large "Map of Italy" will also be feature where people of Italian descent may place their family name and information on the map. L'Osteria will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Trolley cars will be at the main entrance to the festival and are available for transport.
Also new this year, the Sgro Brothers will play Saturday in the entertainment tent after the parade. The first Battle of the Bands Competition will take place Sunday at noon. "The Salami Shack" will also offer a raffle game with prizes of Italian meats and cheeses. A puppet show will also be a new feature this year for children, with Bingo also making a return.
Friday's events include:
• 1 to 11 p.m.: Opening of food, craft and gift marketplace, displays, entertainment, beverages, games of chance, amusement rides and concessions. Optional "Super Saver" for the amusement rides are $20 for all rides, all day.
• 6 to 6:30 p.m.: Four Dragons martial arts demonstration.
• 6 to 10 p.m.: Bingo in the pavilion.
• 7 p.m.: Live entertainment with Shylock Foxx.
• 11 p.m.: Vendors and amusements close. The Beer and Wine Garden may continue to operate until midnight.
Saturday's events include:
• 9 to 9:30 a.m.: Four-person Bocce Tournament Registration. The Tony Tallarida Memorial Tournament begins at 10 a.m.
• Noon to midnight: Opening of rides and games.
• Noon: Festival parade begins with marching bands, floats, bagpipes and more than 45 units. Parade begins at 12th and Decatur Street, goes north on Decatur Street to Fourth Street, then east on Fourth Street to Clute Park.
• 1 to 8 p.m.: L'Osteria opens.
• 2 p.m.: Homemade Wine Makers Contest at the L'Osteria.
• 4 p.m.: Pasta Eating Contest at the Entertainment Stage.
• 5 to 10 p.m.: Bingo in the pavilion.
• 7:30 p.m.: Live entertainment with Always Under Construction.
• 10:15 p.m.: Fireworks over Seneca Lake.
• Midnight: Beer and Wine Garden closes.
Sunday's events include:
• Noon to 6 p.m.: Opening of rides and games.
• Noon: Competition at the Lakeside Community Skate Park.
• Noon: Motorcycles begin to arrive for the Italian Festival Motorcycle Show.
• Noon: First annual Battle of the Bands Competition.
• Noon to close: Music all day at the Beer and Wine Garden.
• Noon to 5 p.m.: L'Osteria opens.
• 2 p.m.: Homemade Pasta Sauce Contest at L'Osteria.
• 1 to 5 p.m.: Bingo in the pavilion.
• 6 p.m.: Close of the 36th annual Italian American Festival.
Times, events and participants are tentative and subject to change. For more, visit www.watkinsglenitalianamericanfestival.org.