VALHALLA, N.Y. – The annual Italian Heritage Festival at the Kensico Dam in Valhalla is a go-to event for Ossining’s Giuseppe Conte, who was just a few days removed from a trip to Sassinoro, Italy to visit his parents.
Conte is the first generation in his family to live in America, which he said makes it all the more important to remember and celebrate his heritage.
“We’re just around friends and people that come from the same traditions and the same backgrounds and that’s what keeps our traditions going,” he said.
Throughout the year Conte celebrates his heritage as a member of the Columbus Lodge in Ossining, where the Italian Heritage Festival is held later in the year. He said his group comes out to support other heritage groups, and then they do the same. The group that provides the food at the Kensico Dam event is based in White Plains.
Many attending the festival Sunday said they do so for the trademark sausage and peppers, gyros and funnel cake. Pat Morano, of New Rochelle said the zeppoles and funnel cake is what his family, who has been coming to the festival for about 10 years, clamors for.
Sofia Early of Yonkers said it was her first time at the festival, but the combination of food and entertainment will bring her back in future years.
Diego and Lyda Viveros of Thornwood said they go to several of the heritage festivals to enjoy the food.
For others, like Justin and Jamie Cammarata of Scarsdale the event is simply a chance to get out of the house and show their 13-month-old daughter Harley something new.
Ivy Castore of Somers said it also is a chance to teach her two children, Gabriella, 7, and Ryan, 8, about their Italian heritage. For Ryan and Gabriella, the big takeaway was still the food.