Italian Heritage Festival kicks off Thursday

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hertel Avenue has been transformed into Little Italy for the weekend, as the Galbani Italian Heritage Festival prepares to kick of its 29th year.

The festival will open to the public at 11 a.m. Thursday and will continue through Sunday.

Every year, the festival draws hundreds of thousands of people to North Buffalo for a weekend packed with activities and entertainment, including a Grape Stomping event, bocce ball, a procession for Saint Anthony, an ‘Italian Idol’ competition, and cheese stacking contests.

That’s not to mention the rides, music, food and vendors, which keep people coming back year after year for more.

The Italian Heritage Festival is the second largest street festival in the country, and festival spokesman Marco Scortino says every year, it gets bigger and better. “It’s just a lot of fun having everybody back, and serving the fan favorites, the pizza and the cannolis and the sausage, and checking out what Buffalo has to offer with the resurgence of what we’ve been doing and having food truck alley and kind of going with that. And just looking forward to the entertainment,” he said.

This year, the 2016 Italian Heritage corridor theme is a tribute to the Italian region of Sicily, with an authentic antique “Carretto Siciliano” (A Sicilian cart from the 1890’s from Palermo Sicily) on display along with several other Sicilian artifacts.

Genealogy experts will also be on hand to help festival-goers learn more about their family trees.

Mayor Byron Brown will take part in the opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Hertel Avenue will remain closed for traffic between Colvin and Delaware through the end of the festival Sunday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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