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Annual street fair begins Wednesday


A good recipe includes a taste of this, a sprinkle of that. A good festival includes a taste of this and and a little of that as well. And it's that mix which makes the San Gennaro Feast so popular.

The fifth Las Vegas Street Fair and the 21st annual San Gennaro Feast begins Wednesday and is located across from the Gold Coast, on the southwest corner of Flamingo Road and Valley View Boulevard.

The five-day event has a long standing in Las Vegas. In 1980, it found its way to Las Vegas after being an annual tradition on Manhattan's Mulberry Street for years. It soon became a yearly tradition in our city as well.

Last year the event, held in Summerlin, had 55,000 attendees. This year, up to 80,000 are expected.

The entertainment list includes names familiar names from the Strip: The Scintas, lounge performers Denise Clemente and Sandy Hackett, Bill Acosta from the Flamingo Hilton, blues band John Earl and the Boogieman Band and a tribute to Frank Sinatra and company with "The Rat Pack is Back."

Others who have committed to the event are: Tami Pryce and Lonnie Usherson, Michael Conti and Victoria Adams as Elvis and Reba, juggler Michael Holly from the Sahara, Golden Joe Baker as Elvis from Viva Las Vegas, The Goelle Band, Lawrence T., a trio of country of impersonators -- The Honky-tonk Angels, jazz saxophonist Rocky Gordon, The Society of Seven from Hawaii, Robert Allen from Catch a Rising Star, Pete Wilcox as Elvis, Comic magician Fielding West, another Rat Pack tribute with the Return to the Sands and for the younger hip crowd, Susan McDonald belts out Top 40 tunes while Envious supplies the pop energy along the lines of an N'Sync and Backstreet flavor.

Since it was introduced to Las Vegas, the feast drew big crowds at first but, as with most things, the novelty wore off. After a few years attendance began to founder. That is, until Anthony Palmisano got an idea.

About nine years ago, Palmisano, who comes from a family of street vendors who participated in the feast, decided the event needed to mesh entertainment and elements of a street fair. He created his own company, Royal Festivals, and used it to complement the feast with more elements.

"This year's event will undoubtedly outdo every other event we have ever promoted," said Palmisano, who has taken Royal Festivals to numerous events outside of Southern Nevada, including Arizona, Florida and Rhode Island.

Royal Festivals brings to the mix foods from around the world, artists, crafts, specialty exhibits, non-stop live entertainment, strolling entertainment singing Italian love songs, live bands, children's singing and dancing groups, karate demonstration, Chinese lion dance, clowns, face painters and live remotes with top Las Vegas radio stations.

Butler Amusements Inc., which has served more fairs, celebrations, festivals and fund-raising events than any other carnival in the West, is providing a state fair-sized carnival featuring more than 40 rides and a game-midway. Children activities include a petting zoo, pony ride, caricature artists and face painters.

Themed-days are included in the event with Sept. 15 acknowledging Hawaiian culture, complete with island drummers and hula dancers. The festival will close Sept. 16 with a Latin flair to help celebrate Mexican Independence Day.

Palmisano has a long history in street fairs and special events. He had his first lemonade stand in Miami at age 11. He went on to open Icee stands, sausage and pepper stands and Philly cheese steak stands and traveled to various cities to be a part of their street fairs. He has 21 years of experience in Southern Nevada and relocated with his wife Heidi, from his hometown of Providence, R.I., in 1989.

"It was hands-on experience that is invaluable to this day," said Palmisano, who founded Royal Festivals Inc., which has operated street fairs and festivals in Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Rhode Island. "Not only because I worked alongside my uncle, but the old-timers who are considered pioneers in this industry. "Bigger and better is an understatement to what this event will be."

The feast's long list of entertainers is mostly due to the efforts of Tony Sacca. Sacca, who performs at the Boardwalk Casino, has a local television show and owns his own production company, has been involved with the San Gennaro Feast for more than a decade.

"I like to book the entertainers who make this town the Entertainment Capital," Sacca said. "They are the construction workers for our entertainment community. They're the ones who entertain tourists and locals 365 days a year. They like to entertain (residents) and they want to be able to show their stuff to our community."

Gates will open at 4 p.m. Wednesday

Hours of operation will be as follows: Wednesday and Thursday 4 to 11 p.m., Friday 4 to midnight, Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Tickets will be $5 for everyone, with those 55 inches tall or smaller admitted free. Parking is $2.

For more information, call Royal Festivals at 286-4944.



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