Annual street fair begins Wednesday
By JAN HOGAN
VIEW STAFF WRITER
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
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
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
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