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