BUFFALO, N.Y. - Buffalo's Italian Heritage Festival will have a new home this year.
2 On Your Side has confirmed it will move from its longtime home on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo to the Outer Harbor. The move will be announced Tuesday morning during a news conference in Mayor Byron Brown's office in City Hall.
The Italian Heritage Festival is the second largest of its kind in the entire United States. It's been located on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo for 29 years.
For that reason, some people in the neighborhood feel a sentimental attachment to the festival. That includes Angela Vitale, a bartender at Joey's Place, which opened on Hertel a few weeks ago.
"I'm very upset," Vitale said. "I grew up in North Buffalo, and my kids go all the time. And I'm really upset. And disappointed."
However, despite the sentimental value, there have been issues at the Italian Festival on Hertel. Two years ago, for example, Buffalo Police shut down the festival early one night due to a fight.
Many small businesses and boutiques close their doors during the festival, including "Start With Sleep," which is owned by Soda Kuczkowski, who was also just elected to the Hertel Business Association board.
"It's great for bars and walkup traffic. But with that comes a lot of drinking," Kuczkowski said. "So a lot of the smaller businesses take it as an opportunity to close their doors, take time for themselves, go on vacation, because a lot of times, you're not seeing shoppers go through here. You're just kind of seeing people wander through."
Kuczkowski sees the Italian Festival's move to the Outer Harbor as an opportunity-- for everyone involved.
"It's a way for them to basically reinvent the festival," Kuczkowski said.
The festival is scheduled to run from Thursday, July 13 - Sunday, July 16 from 11am-11pm. A spokesperson for the Empire State Development says there is a proposed admission fee for the festival that will be voted on by festival organizers in the near future. If approved, the cost for admission will be $5 for adults, 1/2 price for veterans and seniors and children 12 and under will be free. The proposed fee would be used to pay for security and infrastructure (lighting).