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Bocce, food prove popular at Italian Festival

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

Francis Minervino, 91, of Albion does the motions for the YMCA song today at the St. Rocco’s Italian Festival in Hulberton. Tom Mazerbo was the DJ for the event, which draws about 2,500 people to the hamlet along the Erie Canal.

Pasta fagioli, eggplant parmesan and other Italian foods were quick sell-outs during today’s festival.

HULBERTON – Peter Monacelli remembers spending his summers in the 1950s and ’60s with his grandparents in Hulberton.

The neighborhood, set along in the sandstone quarries along the Erie Canal, was full of passionate Italians.

“It was a wonderful place to be for a kid,” said Monacelli, 71, of Rochester. “For such a tiny place it was so full of life.”

Monacelli was back in Hulberton today for the annual St. Rocco’s Italian Festival, bringing his 91-year-old aunt Francis Minervino of Albion. Monacelli never misses the event, which is nearing its 40th year.

“I see all of these people that I see once a year,” he said. “It’s a blast.”

Elizabeth Jubenville of Kendall puts powdered sugar on waffles at the St. Rocco’s Italian Festival in Hulberton today. The event raises about $15,000 for the Catholic parish in Holley and Kendall.

Monacelli loves the Italian food, the bocce tournament, Italian music and gift baskets that are raffled off. The event raises about $15,000 of the Catholic parish in Holley and Kendall.

Eggplant parmesan was once again the top seller with about 800 slices quickly gobbled up. Pasta fagioli was another popular item, as well as the meatball sandwiches.

Joann Smith is chairwoman of the Italian food court. She and the church volunteers were swarmed by a big crowd on a hot, muggy day.

“It’s nice that they enjoy it,” Smith said about the food eaters. “It makes it more worthwhile to see everyone so happy.”

James Logsdon, 90, of Holley competes in today’s bocce tournament in Hulberton. Logsdon played on a team with his son Kevin and grandson Mike Logsdon. The grandfather hand-tapped the playing surface for the seven courts, getting them ready for today’s 24-team tournament that included $1,500 in prizes.

The bocce tournament attracted 24 teams, with competitors from Canada, Lockport, Rochester, Batavia and many teams from Orleans County. Randy Bower chairs the event. The teams may be expanded next year to 32 because there is so much interest.

Bower and many of the other players look forward to the tournament every year.

“It’s a Labor Day tradition,” he said. “We enjoy the camaraderie and everyone playing together.”

Bocce players get out the measuring tape to see who is closest.