Back in the day, to honor the Italian holiday The Feast of the Assumption, a small group of Italian-Americans that lived in Watkins Glen decided to carry a statue of the Virgin Mary on their shoulders through the streets of the town. This celebration grew very large, and they picked the location of Clute Park to hold it when it outgrew the streets. This is how the now-3 day event called the Italian-American Festival was born.
This year I stopped by the festival on August 2nd; the last day of the festival, on a Sunday. My main goal in going there was to find a cannoli; because I know they’re always there and I know they’re good. Scuteri’s Cannoli Connection always has their tent set up at the festival, and their cannolis are some of the best in the area. I love the chocolate dipped ones. But enough about the cannolis, I’ve got to tell you about the rest of the festival!
The Italian Festival is a pretty typical festival as far as festivals go. You’ll find artisans and crafters with their tents set up. You’ll find food trucks and tents with everything from ice cream to ravioli. It’s worth noting that since this is an Italian event, the food is very good here. There’s a lot of pasta and things like Italian sausage and traditional Italian desserts. As an adult, the reason I go is the food, and the fireworks, which occur the Saturday evening of the weekend festival. There’s also live music under a big tent, so that’s a good way to relax.
For the kids, there are fun things like carnival rides (including the big slide!) and face painting and all the other usual festival things. Clute Park is located right on Seneca Lake, so it’s fun to get in the water, too. There are lifeguards on duty on the beach, so the swimming area is perfect to cool off.
Another neat thing is that many boat owners on the lake will bring their boats over into the shallow water in front of the park and anchor them there. There are so many, it’s almost like a small city of boats during the festival. People will hang out on them; just sipping a drink or jumping in the water. There is a real community out there during the festival and I really enjoy the atmosphere.
I’d say that the main draw for kids will be the rides, and the draw for adults will be the food. I know I love my cannolis! But if you’re in the area during this weekend festival, it’s worth it to stop by and enjoy an afternoon there, especially on Saturday so you can see the fireworks!
For more information, visit watkinsglenitalianamericanfestival.org.