St. Rocco’s Festival a hit in the heat

Posted 6 September 2015 at 12:00 am

Frank Ruggiero of Rochester has been coming to play in bocce tournament for about 15 years at St. Rocco’s Festival in Hulberton. Bocce and lots of Italian food brought people to the festival grounds near the canal.

Photos and article by Kim Pritt

HULBERTON – The temperatures in the high 80s and humidity didn’t stop several hundred people from enjoying the 39th Annual St. Rocco’s Italian Festival this afternoon in Hulberton.

The popular event offered something for everyone with a wide variety of Italian food, including a spaghetti dinner, baked goods, children’s games, music, a basket raffle and other attractions.

Doug Heath, right, and Bill Austin take a turn cooking Italian sausage, onions, peppers, hamburgers, and hot dogs for the crowd.

Festival organizer Bill Campbell said the festival has been a local tradition for 39 years with proceeds benefitting St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Holley.

“We have a great bunch of volunteers who work hard to put this event on,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers and the donations. They work all month and some all year to prepare for this day.”

Cortney Quaranto from Holley takes her turn on the Bocce court. This is Cortney’s first year playing in this tournament. “My brother usually plays on my father’s team, but he is in the Air Force, now, so I stepped in to fill the spot on the team.”

A highlight of the festival is the WNY Bocce Tournament. Teams come from all over New York State and Canada to play in this annual tournament. The teams play a series of elimination rounds of the traditional Italian bowling game until first and second place teams can be declared, typically well into the evening hours.

Tournament organizer Randy Bower (center) is pictured with Paul Quaranto from Holley (left), playing for Team Red and Libby DiPardo from Niagara Falls, ON (right), playing for Team The Gamblers.

“We have teams from across Orleans County, as well as from across the state, such as Niagara Falls, Lockport, Rochester, and Seneca Falls, to name a few,” said Randy Bower, tournament organizer for over 20 year. “This is the biggest event of this kind in Orleans County and these are the only Bocce tournament courts here in Orleans County.”

This year marks the 150th Anniversary for St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Parish in Holley. Several commemorative items were available for sale at the Anniversary Booth at the Festival.

St. Mary’s church is located at 13 S. Main Street, Holley. The parish also includes St. Mark’s Church in Kendall.

St. Rocco’s Festival is a fund-raiser for St. Mary’s. This year’s festival included commemorative items for the parish’s 150th anniversary.