Buffalo, NY - One of the Queen City's biggest summer events has returned —but to a different location with some significant changes. The Galbani Italian Heritage Festival is back, but with a new look.
This festival started in the 1970s along Connecticut Street in Buffalo and was originally the Italian "Village" Festival. It moved to Hertel Avenue in 1988 where the heritage festival took place for almost three decades. But this weekend, it's moved again, this time to Buffalo's Outer Harbor. It runs from Thursday July 13th to Sunday the 16th from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The festival's signature gondola boat is not quite seaworthy, but it may be really appropriate this year for this relocated Galbani Italian Heritage Festival.
The Outer Harbor does pose some challenges with the lakefront setting, like access.
Beth Potozniak of Outer Management says: "We just encourage everyone, if they can, to take the Bike Ferry over from Canalside, carpool, and just be patient."
They can also access the Bike Ferry by taking the Metro Rail down to Canalside.
In addition Uber, will offer a $20 discount promo code on rides to Wilkeson Pointe near the festival site.
For those who choose to drive, Buffalo Police have closed the Skyway's Outer Harbor exit and are funneling drivers to the Tifft Street exit and then via Fuhrmann Boulevard and Outer Harbor Drive to 3,000 free parking spots at the terminal A and B lots. There also some spots on Fuhrmann itself. There will be a shuttle bus to carry people from the terminal parking lots to the festival grounds.
As for power, a hired contractor brought in four 150 kilowatt generators for all that refrigeration. And for those who have to "go" extra comfort stations also known as "Porta Johns" have been trucked in to meet the needs.
As for drinking water, Festival Business Manager Mona Rinaldo says: "I believe they're gonna attempt to pump in some of the city water through the hydrants, which is traditionally what we've done on Hertel. It is potable water, but they are bringing in 500 gallons per day and there's large containers for the vendors to come and fill up and take it back to the stands."
You'll still find the traditional favorites of the festival, like the grape stomping stand. And while they say some food vendors have dropped off their list, new vendors are on board. Some vendors favor this new site, like Lorie Oberst.
"Had a hard time with finding places to park and getting supplies in and out," Oberst said. "We always had a really hard time with that down on Hertel and you know I think it's gonna be real easy. There's lots of room."
Of course the biggest change is the five dollar fee for ages 13 and up. Peter LoJacono of the Festival Board of Directors says: "Considering in today's world the prices of everything are going up, it costs us more money to be able to put on his festival. It costs us more money for all of the different things to bring to you."
Seniors ages 62 and up only pay a $2 dollar fee while veterans and children 12 and under will be admitted for free.
The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation says the activities range from bocce ball tourneys to the Miss Italian Fest competition, along with cultural heritage events, children's activities, cheese building contests, an Italian car show, wine tasting and puppet shows.
There will also be concerts including a performance by Sal Valentinetti, who was a finalist on the America's Got Talent program on NBC and Channel 2.
And festival sponsor, Galbani Cheese, is also holding cooking demonstrations.