Galbani Italian Festival
The Galbani Italian Heritage Festival of Buffalo is a highlight of Summer events in Western New York. Sponsored by the Hertel North Buffalo Business Association, the West Side Business and Taxpayers Association and the Federation of Italian-American Societies of WNY, this annual event features the very best of Italian food, Entertainment and Heritage that our area has to offer. The proceeds of the festival are divided among the three organizations and are used to benefit the community.
The history of the festival dates back to the early 1900’s around St. Anthony’s Church on Buffalo’s Lower West Side where it flourished for several decades. In the mid 1970’s the festival was moved to Connecticut Street in a neighborhood known as the “Italian Village” sponsored by the Amici Lodge. In the mid 1980’s the festival moved to Hertel Ave. where it was enjoyed for many decades. It has also taken place on the Buffalo Waterfront and most recently in Niagara Square. One thing is certain, no matter where our festival is held, it is supported greatly by the WNY community.
Yearly, crowds come looking for their favorite Italian foods from their favorite vendors. Sponsored by Galbani Cheese you can also learn how to make wonderful Italian specialties from great local chefs in our Galbani Kitchen! The amazing food offered by our vendors is second to none. Some of our vendors have been with us since our early days on Connecticut Street and their loyalty to us is matched by the loyalty of their devoted customers. Everyone has their favorite vendor to get cannoli, pizza, sausage or fried dough among other delights. We are certainly so very grateful for their continued participation and support from the community at large.
Over the years the festival has featured great local and national Italian and Italian-American Entertainment. Some of the national performers who have graced our stages over the years are: Frank Sinatra Jr., Julius La Rosa, Joe Piscopo, Frankie Avalon, Gianni Russo, Sal Valentinetti along with Buffalo’s very own Frankie Scinta and the Scinta Family, Formula Band, Bobby Militello, Joey Giambra to just name a few. The entertainment and shows are always free and outstanding! Another festival favorite is our Jalana Palma Italian Idol Contest. Talent from all over WNY compete for this coveted title. We have also hosted our own version of Dancing with the Stars as well as Miss Italian Festival competitions.
As it is never too late to learn, our Heritage component always seeks to educate festival attendees and honor our glorious past via displays on Italian culture. Over the course of several years our festival has featured many educational displays which honor our beloved Italy, our Italian heroes and our own Italian history right here in Buffalo. We have featured the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, hosted Flagthrowers from our Sister City of Torremaggiore Italy, dancers from various national Italian dance troupes as well. We also have had two versions of the Trevi Fountain and even an erupting replica of Mount Vesuvius! Another crowd pleaser is the daily grape stomping that takes place four times a day along with face painting and Crafts for the bambini! We have also hosted many Bocce Tournaments with competitors all vying for the Bocce Champion Trophy! Let us not forget as well the Italian Mass we have offered along with our much loved 100+ year old St. Anthony Statue and procession to our beloved Saint, a tradition which brings us back to our roots at St. Anthony’s over a century ago!
There is something for everyone at our festival. It is a Western New York Summer tradition that Covid may have put on pause; however, we will be back bigger and better than ever as soon as possible. Stay tuned! Grazie e Viva Italia!
-Peter LoJacono 2nd Vice President