The Highland hamlet will be transformed into an Italian street festival on Saturday, September 8 from 2 to 8 p.m., as the Highland Business Association hosts its second annual Night in Little Italy. Admission is free to this family fun event showcasing businesses based in the Town of Lloyd. “We want everybody to see what our town has to offer,” says Christina DeMaio of Minard Farms, one of the event’s organizers.
Many contemporary Highlanders are descendants of Italian laborers who immigrated to the Hudson Valley in the 19th and early 20th centuries, first constructing railroads, canals and aqueducts and later investing their earnings in orchard land to grow fruit trees. You’ll find this heritage celebrated with gusto at the Night in Little Italy, with shout-outs to the Old Country in the form of a variety of agriculture-related activities — and of course, abundant servings of hearty Italian cuisine. All will take place on Vineyard Avenue, which will be closed to automobile traffic between its intersections with Milton Avenue and Main Street.
“We’ve built two grape-stomping activity centers, using two wine barrels cut in half,” DeMaio informs us. “We’ll fill them with a couple of hundred pounds of grapes.” Anyone who wants to try their hand — er, foot — at this rustic endeavor simply needs to show up unshod. “One of our members built two bocce courts that’ll be put up in the street,” she adds.
Another highlight of the street festival will be the Cannoli-Eating Contest, which begins at 5:30 p.m. The first six to eight contestants to sign up on-site will get their chance to compete for a prize in the form of a gift card from a local business. The Rockland Bakery will supply 200 mini-cannoli, ready to be scarfed down as hastily as possible.
Fair food in many forms, mostly Italian, will be available for purchase, of course, all from local vendors: classic pasta dishes, sausage and peppers, risotto, zeppole, espresso and biscotti and lots more. The length of the street will be decorated with lights, flags and floral centerpieces arrayed in empty tomato sauce cans by Kim Bezzaro-Scott of the Little Flower Shop Downtown. Live traditional Italian music will be performed from 4 to 7 p.m. by Roberto Milanese and Carmelo Liardi. “You’ll feel like you’re in Italy,” promises DeMaio.
With traffic detoured around the closed-off block of Vineyard Avenue, visitors are advised to utilize the two municipal parking lots near the lacrosse field and behind Aphrodite’s Antiques, as well as behind Town Hall — all within walking distance of the festivities. Limited on-street parking will also be available on Main and Church Streets.
To find out more about A Night in Little Italy, visit www.facebook.com/groups/highlandbusinessassociation.