Photo by Steve Green of PMQ Pizza Magazine
To the delight of spectators, a member of the U.S. Pizza Team practices throwing dough in the village of Fontanellato, Italy. Pizza throwing will be among the activities featured at the upcoming Lake George Italian Festival set for May 18 and 19. The event is to include Italian specialties, craft beer and wine served streetside, as well as musicians, jugglers, European-inspired arts & crafts as well as public grape-stomping.
The first annual “Lake George Italian Festival” is to be held Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19, and participants should expect to get flour on their hands, purple feet and sore rear ends.
Fest organizer Gayle Nelson revealed her ambitious plans this week — the festival features pizza throwing contests, public grape-stomping, and mechanical bull riding.
Also, Italian food created by local chefs will be served up streetside, accompanied by craft beer and hearty wine.
The festival — celebrating the food and traditions of Italy — is to be held in Shepard Park and spill over onto Canada St., event sponsor Gayle Nelson said this week.
“We want to take the heartbeat of Lake George and make it throb even more,” Nelson said with a grin.
Beginning at 6 a.m. May 18, the northbound lane of Canada St., the village’s main drag, is to be closed to traffic between Montcalm St. to Lower Amherst St. and it will reopen at 6 p.m. May 19.
A robust roster of activities, contests and entertainment for all ages is to be offered, and there’s no admission fee. Events are to be held 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, rain or shine.
Beginning at noon each day, Italian specialty dishes prepared by local restaurants will be served under a wedding tent — accompanied by beer and wine. Festival attendees are welcome to sit and dine in a large tent in Shepard Park while listening to musicians performing in the amphitheater, Nelson said.
An expansive arts and crafts show will showcase artisans demonstrating their talents and selling their craftworks, reflecting traditions from all over the world.
An age-old Italian activity of grape-squashing is to occur on both afternoons, featuring a Lucille Ball impersonator — and the public is invited to roll up their pant legs and join the fun.
In addition to bounce houses, gondola-wagon hayrides and farm animals for youngsters, children will also likely enjoy a dunking booth and a reasonably tame mechanical bull. Activities for youth include face and body painting, horse and pony rides, children’s games and contests, a magic show, and bocce ball contests.
Live entertainment, provided throughout the festival, includes performances by the Glens Falls Music Academy, various opera singers, mandolin player John Seneta, and more. Performing at 2 p.m. prior to an awards ceremony on Sunday is Jerry Gretzinger of the Fort Salem Theater as well as one of the “Singing Anchors” from NewsChannel 6 — with a three-piece a band ensemble.
To complete the street-festival atmosphere, entertainment is to include strolling performers including mime artists, jugglers, stilt-walkers and musicians.
For automotive enthusiasts, a number of Italian-bred vehicles are to be on display.
Capping off Saturday’s evening’s festivities are fireworks over the lake.
Sunday also features a costume parade from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.. At 3 p.m., a panel of local celebrity judges including village Mayor Robert Blais will taste-test pizzas prepared by local eateries, to determine Lake George’s most savory pizza. A panel of children and adults, selected from the crowd, will also be choosing their favorite brand of pizza. Additionally, judges will be choosing the best Venetian carnival mask worn to the event — as well as best costume and best pizza-thrower.
People seeking to serve as judges are to meet at 1 p.m. Sunday May 18 at the Shepard Park bandstand to apply for the role.
For details, see: www.lgfestivals.com or- call 668-9541. Local officials have noted the overwhelming success of the premier Lake George Oktoberfest last fall, and they say they’re expecting a similar crowd of thousands to attend the Italian Festival, which is to feature far more activities.