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Italian Heritage and Cultural Festival brings Long Islanders together

Whether you are Italian or not, everyone enjoyed the day at the Italian Heritage and Cultural Festival on Long Island.
Whether you are Italian or not, everyone enjoyed the day at the Italian Heritage and Cultural Festival on Long Island.
© 2014 Suzanne Brodsky

Long Islanders were treated to a special event this past weekend as the first Italian Heritage and Cultural Festival got underway in Smithtown. Sponsored by the Order Sons of Italy in America and the New York Commission for Social Justice, the event took place on the fairgrounds of the Smithtown Historical Society. Patrons enjoyed a day of music, entertainment, shopping, and delicious Italian cuisine.

Food, fun and entertainment brought the Italian Heritage and Cultural Festival to life.
© 2014 Suzanne Brodsky

Booths were set up at the fairgrounds entrance. Those interested in learning more about the many Italian lodges on Long Island could speak to representatives. As you proceeded into the fairgrounds, vendors selling jewelry, pottery, stained glass and clothing were on hand displaying their wares. They also had food items such as fudge, hot sauce, and grape preserves for those looking for a treat to take home.

A walk further into the fairgrounds brought you to the food vendors selling lunch items. Uncle Giuseppe’s was the main caterer, supplying fresh pizza, calzones, cheese and rice balls, and hero sandwiches. Ralph’s Italian Ices was also on hand, as well as assorted trucks selling ice cream and zeppoles.

If a little music was what you had in mind, you were in luck. Numerous Italian singers and bands were on hand to liven up the atmosphere. From Italian opera to pop songs from the 1950’s, there was no shortage of music to keep you tapping your feet. An Italian-American tenor sang songs with a lively beat, as audience members danced in the aisles and swayed in their seats. If comedy was more your style, you were still in luck! Two comedians kept the audience in stitches at the Frank Brush Barn during the afternoon. The Epenetus Smith Tavern also housed various presentations for those looking for something different to watch, such as stone carvers. For those interested in an educational setting, they had a poet, an author and a professor on hand to bring Italian history to you in various formats.

Children enjoyed the day’s activities, too. A walk to the far end of the fairgrounds brought you to where they house the animals. Keep your hands and feet away from the fence, though! A goat might stick its nose out in hopes of you offering it some lunch (although they do have signs asking you not to feed them any kind of bread.) Look to your left and you’ll see the chickens. You may hear them, too! They were out and about on the bright, sunny, Saturday afternoon.

No matter how you spent your time, it was a beautiful day, filled with wonderful events, food and fun for the whole family. It was a comprehensive way to bring the Italian heritage to Long Island and to celebrate its rich culture. Those who attended had smiles on their faces, and after listening to the music, a song in their hearts.