Food, fun, en­ter­tain­ment high­light Ital­ian Fes­ti­val

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Hu­bert bhu­bert@free­manon­line.com @bri­anat­free­man on Twit­ter

A crowd of hearty and "hon­orary" Ital­ian-Amer­i­cans took in the fes­tiv­i­ties at the Ul­ster County Ital­ian Fes­ti­val.

KINGSTON >> A crowd of hearty Ital­ian-Amer­i­cans and “hon­orary Ital­ianAmer­i­cans” alike braved a cloudy and raw fall af­ter­noon to take in the fes­tiv­i­ties at the Ul­ster County Ital­ian Fes­ti­val at T.R. Gallo Park on Sun­day.

The fes­ti­val fea­tured ven­dors sell­ing a wide va­ri­ety of food rang­ing from bis­cotti to sausage to olive oil, along with other wares rang­ing from hand­bags to trin­kets.

Af­ter an open­ing cer­e­mony fea­tur­ing Kingston High grad­u­ate An­drew Hoben singing the U.S and Ital­ian na­tional an­thems, and speeches by Kingston Mayor Steve Noble and state Sen. Ge­orge Ame­dore, lo­cal band “Hotrod” took the stage to play hit songs from acts like Jour­ney and The Doors.

Other mu­si­cal per­for­mances slated for the af­ter­noon and evening in­cluded Roberto Mi­lanese and An­gelo Bruno per­form­ing tra­di­tional and mod­ern Ital­ian mu­sic, along with opera, big band mu­sic and a tribute to Frank Si­na­tra.

“The Ul­ster County Ital­ian-Amer­i­can Foun­da­tion was founded in June 2015 be­cause there’s 35,000 Ital­ian-Amer­i­cans in Ul­ster County, and we needed an or­ga­ni­za­tion for men and women to pre­serve our cul­ture, cel­e­brate our cul­ture and just to do good work in our com­mu­nity,” Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Tony Marmo said.

Marmo said they have ap­prox­i­mately 300 mem­bers and are all about cel­e­brat­ing Ital­ian cul­ture and her­itage. All fes­ti­val pro­ceeds go to­ward fund­ing the foun­da­tion’s ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, schol­ar­ships and the work they do in the com­mu­nity.

Marmo said those schol­ar­ships have gone to nine dif­fer­ent school dis­tricts within Ul­ster County.

But per­haps the big­gest draw was the food.

Stand­ing by the Off the Hook Food Truck, Phoeni­cia’s Sarah Pen­na­chio said her hus­band is Ital­ian and they came to sam­ple the food.

“So far the food’s great,” she said.

Yy­onne Curtin, of Bella’s Home Baked Foods of High­land, was of­fer­ing sam­ples of 11 dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of their bis­cotti, an Ital­ian cookie. A first-time ven­dor at the fes­ti­val, she said they came to show off their prod­ucts to Kingston’s Ital­ianAmer­i­can com­mu­nity.

“We’re here to in­tro­duce our­selves,” Curtin said.

Kath­leen Carey, of Kingston, said she was en­joy­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties.

“There’s lots of great food,” Carey said.

Foun­da­tion mem­ber Terri Dwyer, of Kingston, was help­ing staff the in­for­ma­tion tent.

“I walked around a lit­tle bit, Dwyer said. “It’s huge. There are a lot of ven­dors and en­ter­tain­ment.”

As for her fa­vorite thing, she wa­vered a bit be­tween the food and the en­ter­tain­ment, be­fore de­cid­ing on food.

“Be­ing Ital­ian, it’s all about the food,” she said.

BRIAN HU­BERT — DAILY FREE­MAN

A crowd gath­ers for the open­ing cer­e­mony for Sun­day’s Ital­ian-Amer­i­can Fes­ti­val at T.R. Gallo Park.

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