San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons

Nothing is better than an outdoor festival on a crisp fall day—add some delicious Italian food to it and you have the San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons. This year, it will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Long Island Railroad Station on Good Ground Road in Hampton Bays. With over 50 food and non-food vendors, the weekend is sure to be a huge hit.

This is the feast’s second year in the Hamptons (held for the first time last October) and it’s sponsored by the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce. Features besides the vendors include a carnival, a raffle to win a Fiat, a parade on Saturday at 11 a.m., and fireworks on Sunday evening at 9 p.m. to end thing with a bang (or several). Five live bands and a DJ will perform rotating sets from noon until closing, and attendees can eat, drink, relax and enjoy the entertainment in a huge tent with tables and chairs. Performers include Johnny Avino singing the classic sounds of the Great American Songbook and giving a nod to Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, and Nat King Cole; Franco Corso, a baritone Italian singing sensation; Groove Buffet; Carmelo Raccuglia; and the Desert Highway Band.

And what’s more—the San Gennaro Feast is a festival with a conscience: proceeds will support The San Gennaro Hampton Bays High School Scholarship Fund, SSCADV (Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence), and Maureen’s Haven, which provides shelter and services for the homeless of the East End. This year’s Grand Marshal is Dominic Pensa, patriarch of the ever-popular Villa Paul restaurant in Hampton Bays.

Some may recognize the name of the feast, which has been made popular in the U.S. due to Little Italy’s celebration in Manhattan. Their 11-day event, complete with a renowned cannoli-eating competition, has inspired the festival in the Hamptons. “Why can’t we have something like that out here?” said Dom Spoto, a member of the feast’s committee.

San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, Italy, who died as a martyr in 305 A.D. He was beheaded for his views and his refusal to cooperate with local pagan officials. After his beheading, legend has it, a woman collected some of his blood and contained it in two glass vials, perfectly sealed and enclosed in a metal case with glass so that it can be viewed at the Franciscan Church of Saint Clare in Naples. Periodically, the dried, dark blood in the vials will inexplicably begin frothing and bubbling and turn bright red. Believers call this the Miracle of the Blood. Many Italians turn to Gennaro in prayer for protection from fire, earthquakes and drought.

One of the main reasons for the festival here is, as Spoto said, “We thought we’d be able to bring some business and some people out to the Hamptons in the off-season.” Last year’s event drew crowds upwards of 20,000 people, and the organizers hope to do even better this year. The weekend is surely not to be missed—your taste buds will thank you.

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