Festival back for 82nd year The Shirelles, pizza eating contest, and an 800-pound Madonna statue

The 82nd Annual Hoboken Italian Festival, touted as the “premier Italian-American festival in the tri-state area,” will begin on Thursday, Sept. 4 and continue through the weekend.

The gala is hosted at Sinatra Park and along Sinatra Drive. It will provide tremendous food options, and admission is free for everyone.

The festivities are open from 5 to 11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Originating in Molfetta, Italy, the feast honors Madonna Dei Martiri, the patron saint of the small Adriatic town. It dates back to 1399 when the first street festival was held there.

One of the original activities tied to the event was the “Blessing of the Fleet,” and Hoboken carries on the tradition with the procession of the 800-pound stature of the Madonna carried onto a ship that cruises the Hudson River.

In Italy, a small fleet of fishing boats would blast their sirens to herald the arrival of the statue.

Food favorites at the festival will include sausages and peppers, zeppole, and fried Oreos, among many others.

More than just good eats
The festival has a long list of performances lined up, including a jam-packed Sunday night featuring The Shirelles, who are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and The Bronx Wanderers, “the ultimate tribute to Dion, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Johnny Maestro, the Brooklyn Bridges, and more.”

Temporary Grace, an alternative rock band familiar to Maxwell’s and Whiskey Bar patrons, will play their first set on Thursday at 7:15, promptly followed by the Pizza Eating Contest at 8:30. Their second set follows the contest.

Wrapping up Thursday night are the Italian Chicks Comedy Tour, an amusing group that perform at the Monroe Arts Center.

Friday features The Motown Memories Revue, an 11-piece band that covers all of the old Motown hits.

Fireworks will be set off over the river on Saturday night at 9 p.m. in between sets from Mirage.

Sunday also brings the reunion tour of Krystal, a rock band from the ’70s who have an upcoming show at the Whiskey Bar.

For a full schedule, visit www.hobokenitalianfestival.com.

For questions or comments on this story, e-mail tcarroll@hudsonreporter.com.


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