The St. Anthony’s Festival, a Stand Out Among Summer Events

Posted by  //  May 24, 2015  //  News

By Stephanie Passeri-Densmore

Central New York has more than its fair share of enjoyable summer events.  Throughout this long-awaited season, the heart of the Empire State offers many opportunities to experience outdoor entertainment, interesting food, and more.  What makes the St. Anthony’s Festival a special occurrence on this great roster is the fact that the more than one century old celebration  has something for everyone.  Every year, the festival combines the best of its beloved and time-honored features with something new and fresh.  The St. Anthony’s Festival, dating back to 1905, offers Italian religious and cultural activities, delicious food, great musical entertainment, fireworks, children’s games, and shopping opportunities.  This year’s festival, which will be held on June 13th and 14th on the St. Anthony’s Church grounds at 50 Pomeroy Street in Cortland, is truly a stand out event that will appeal to all ages.

The festival begins Saturday afternoon with indoor and outdoor events.  From 4:00 PM to 7 PM, fans of Italian food can feast on a sumptuous spaghetti dinner in the St. Anthony’s Church Hall at the festival’s annual Spaghetti Supper.  At 5:30, the faithful may attend the Mass in Italian, where they can hear the Mass and traditional hymns in the language of the parish’s founders, who came from a number of towns in central and southern Italy around the early 1900’s.  Outdoors, starting at 6:30, festival goers can buy Italian novelties, make bids at the Silent Auction, and savor the festival’s food favorites.  Throughout the evening, attendees can enjoy St. Anthony’s renowned sausage and pepper sandwiches, pizza fritta (fried dough), and Italian treats from the Dolci booth until 10 PM.  Dolci (sweets) include cannoli (ricotta-filled crispy shells), pasticiotti (miniature cream-filled pies), sfogliatelle (thinly layered pastry filled with flavored ricotta), biscotti (twice baked cookies), pizzelle (Italian waffle cookies), assorted homemade Italian cookies, and gelato (Italian ice cream).

Also on Saturday evening, from 7 to 9:30 PM, the Cafferty Band provides musical entertainment.  Immediately following their performance, festival goers can marvel at the fireworks bursting over the night sky on Cortland’s East Side, thanks to the Green Arch Restaurant and McNeil and Company Insurance and Risk Services.

Sunday events start with the 9:30 Mass, celebrating the feast day of  the thirteenth century Franciscan friar who is a popular patron saint of many Italian towns.  Thirteen little boys dressed as St. Anthony (trained by parishioners Vivian Colongeli and Pamela Knickerbocker) carry on the tradition established in the 1930’s, as they sing an Italian hymn which praises St. Anthony for leading many to the Gospel and for protecting those far from home.  Following benediction, the Old Timers Band (once known as the St. Anthony’s Band and later the Civic Band) enters the church to play the favorite Italian march, “Caderna,” and leads the parishioners in the traditional procession around Cortland’s East Side.

“Come to St. Anthony’s, a Parish for All,” the theme of this year’s procession, emphasizes that although St. Anthony’s treasures its strong Italian roots, it is also a parish with members from all over the world and from all walks of life.  In fact, of the several floats in the procession, this year’s theme float features the words, “St. Anthony, Pray for Us,” not only in English and Italian, but also in Spanish, Chinese, Croatian, Vietnamese, Polish, German, Gaelic, and Japanese, reflecting other heritages included in the rich tapestry of St. Anthony’s congregation today.  The procession also features other religious floats, the statue of St. Anthony carried on the shoulders of four parishioners in the style of Italian processions, the ornate St. Anthony’s Banner from Italy, the thirteen little monks, colorful Italian regional banners by the late artist Mario Venturini, parish organizations, accordion player Armando Natale, and parish members.

After the procession returns to St. Anthony’s, Sunday festival activities begin on the grounds of the church at 12:30 PM.  All day, families and friends can sit under the big tent to enjoy many Italian specialty dishes by chef Chris Contento, such as pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) and gnocchi with broccoli, along with sausage and peppers sandwiches, pizza fritta, and other dolci. For youngsters, there is a kids’ food booth, a variety of kids’ games, and the Bounce House.  Festival goers of all ages can have their caricatures drawn and play the giant Godzilla golf game, which towers over Pomeroy Street.  Adults can also play the cake wheel, bid on the Silent Auction, which includes themed baskets among many other items, and shop for Italian novelties, hand painted glassware by the Muse Creations, and handcrafted jewelry by Sharon Torres.

A variety of musical acts perform all day Sunday.  The line-up of performers features the Cortland High School Jazz Band (1:00 PM -2:00 PM), Paulo and Felice (2:30 PM-3:30 PM),   Steve Southworth and the Rockabilly Rays (4:00 PM-5:00 PM), Tailor Made Band (5:30 PM-6:30 PM), and the annual concert by the Old Timers Band (7 PM to 8:30 PM).  Winning raffle tickets are drawn at 6:30.

The official festival website at saintanthonysfestival.org offers complete information for this stand out celebration.  Venite alla Festa di Sant’ Antonio, che offra qualcosa per ognuno!  Come to St. Anthony’s Festival, which offers something for everyone!

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