Italian Festival returning to its 1921 downtown roots

Jul 16, 2019

Buffalo’s Galbani Italian Heritage Festival is returning to its roots in the city’s downtown.

While last year’s festival took place on the Outer Harbor and many Western New Yorkers best know it for its long-running presence on Hertel Avenue, the event traces its origins to St. Anthony of Padua Church behind City Hall.

The original 12-day festival, known as “The Buffalo Lawn Fete,” took place at the site in 1921. This weekend, the festival will transform Niagara Square into an Italian piazza.

A sample of some of the food offerings visitors to this weekend's Italian Festival can expect to see.
Credit Madeline Little / WBFO News

Marco Sciortino, owner and chef at Marco’s Italian Restaurant, hopes visitors will embrace the festival’s cultural heritage.

“Come and sit in the piazza just enjoy the aromas and the food and the music and just enjoy yourself. That’s really my hope, that everybody wraps their arms around this festival and comes to the kitchen table of Western New York which is the Italian Festival,” Sciortino said, at a news conference Tuesday.

St. Anthony pastor Fr. Mike Suffoletto said sharing food and drink is how Italians cement relationships with one another and he is happy to have the tradition back in his neighborhood.

“It was the whole center of attraction for the Italian community in Western New York and I’m happy to see that it’s returning to its roots where it began and hopefully continues the celebration,” Suffoletto said.

Heritage-focused elements of this year’s festival include grape stomping, Italian themed crafts, cooking demonstrations, and music. It will also feature musical performances by national artists and fireworks at 10 p.m. Saturday

The festival begins at 11 a.m. both days. It goes until 10 p.m. on Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday.