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Festival will expand attractions

WATKINS GLEN (8/10/16)--The Italian American Festival will be entering its 37th year Friday through Sunday, Aug. 12 through 14, in what organizers are predicting will be bigger and better than before. Festival Chairman Don Stocum said this year's festivities at Clute Park will include all new bands, a new and improved parade, and an even bigger fireworks display than in previous years.
Stocum said the festival is being held a week later than usual this year in order to not compete with the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen International (WGI). He said this move also means the Italian American Festival will not be competing with the Chemung County Fair, adding he hopes this will result in greater attendance.
One of the popular features of the event is the parade held Saturday at noon, with Stocum saying it will "bring back many of the old-time favorite floats and bands." He estimated there will be around 100 units in the parade this year, which is up from the 45 in last year's parade. The parade begins at 12th and Decatur Streets, going north on Decatur Street to Fourth Street, then east on Fourth Street to Clute Park.
Another main attraction is the fireworks show, which will be held at 10:15 p.m. Saturday over Seneca Lake. Stocum said the fireworks display will be even bigger than before, as they are being done in memory of Stephen Trelevean, who use to take care of the festival fireworks each year.
Also new this year is the relocation of the L'Osteria market, which will feature Italian food, Italian merchandise, an Italian bakery and a bistro offering local wines. Stocum said the market will be moved to a large tent at Clute Park this year. He noted it was held in the community center last year, but did not work out so well as not many festival goers wanted to walk over to the building. The marketplace will also feature homemade wine and sauce competitions Saturday and Sunday respectively.
The festival will also have a new singing competition this year Sunday. Auditions were held at the Odessa-Montour school auditorium in June, with 25 acts making it to the festival. The contest will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Clute Park.
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.
5 to 9 p.m.: L'Osteria is open.
5 to 7:30 p.m.: Sam Pallett Band performs.
6 to 10 p.m.: Bingo in the pavilion.
7 p.m.: Live entertainment with The Cheyenne Band.
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 10 a.m. The courts are newly refurbished.
Noon to midnight: Opening of rides and games.
Noon: Festival parade begins.
Noon to close: L'Osteria opens.
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 Ruby Shooz.
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: Motorcycles begin to arrive for the Italian Festival Motorcycle Show.
Noon: First annual Battle of the Bands Competition.
Noon to close: Beer and Wine Garden.
Noon to close: L'Osteria opens.
1 to 5 p.m.: Vocal talent contest.
1 to 5 p.m.: Bingo in the pavilion.
6 p.m.: Close of the 37th annual Italian American Festival.
Times, events and participants are tentative and subject to change. For more, visit

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