San Gennaro Feast

Strolling guitarist
A strolling guitarist welcomes guests to the San Gennaro Feast
Photo by Megan Edwards

Just got back from an evening at the San Gennaro Feast, so color me full. The feast opened today (Tuesday) at four and runs through Sunday, September 19th at the Silverton. It’s a great location for an event like this. There’s plenty of space for all the food booths, vendor booths, stage, and midway, and plenty of parking for attendees.

I thought showing up on Tuesday at six might mean light crowds and parking without a hike, but I was way wrong. This isn’t a criticism of the Feast, mind you. In fact, it’s a high five and a “Way to go!” I know we’re in the depths of a recession, so it’s heartening to see that hordes of folks can still afford to fork over a $9 admission fee for the privilege of buying $15 pasta entrees, $5 beers, and something more for a chance to win a stuffed bear as big as Louie Anderson.

Of course, you can also get lots of things free, like campaign literature and ads for used spas. You can also take a free tour of a creepy prison bus decorated to promote the “Mob Experience,” but I can’t recommend it. There’s not much inside except a distinct aura of bad karma and some demoralizing graffiti.

Food booth at the San Gennaro Feast
The shrimp scampi and garlic bread--not to mention the chefs--were impossible to pass up
Photo by Megan Edwards

When it comes to food, however, the San Gennaro Feast earns its name. Booth after booth offers unbelievably excellent-looking—and smelling—entrees, side dishes, and desserts. Most, as you might expect, are Italian, and the signature dish is sausage and peppers. (Don’t be thinking “breakfast link” here. Imagine a coil of garden hose, and you’ll get a better mental picture.) If sausage isn’t your thing, never fear. You can select from a truly amazing array of other offerings, including all kinds of pizza and pasta, Mexican food, Greek and Hungarian specialties, turkey legs, corn on the cob, artichokes, meatballs, chicken, calamari, and shrimp scampi. It’s all prepared on the spot in awesome mobile kitchens. You can watch the guy throw your pizza crust or sauté your shrimp.

Add a drink—I opted for draft Italian beer—and you’ll be looking for a place to sit down. The San Gennaro Feast does a great job in this department, too. There are plenty of long tables shaded by umbrellas. I moseyed on down toward the stage and found a spot at a round table with a good view of the entertainment. This is the appeal of the San Gennaro Feast for me: shrimp scampi, pesto pizza, and Peroni beer, all going down to the strains of “Volare.”

After eating, I braved the gauntlet of vendor booths. This is where you can buy fake tattoos, knock-off sunglasses, Harley-Davidson T-shirts, and an array of other products that only amazed me because they did not include a ShamWow. One booth had drawn a crowd by displaying a monkey who made funny faces if you gave it a dollar. I ran afoul of the owner’s rules by snapping a photo. Evidently, I was supposed to fork over a dollar for that, too.

Giant plush dog
A winner carts off his plush trophy
Photo by Megan Edwards

If you’re into midways, the one at the San Gennaro Feast will not disappoint. It’s got all the required “carny” attractions, from your basic merry-go-round to a ride based on the Avatar movie. Oh, and yes, huge stuffed animals. Take wads of cash, and you’re sure to end up burdened by a forty-pound plush Snoopy.

I didn’t save room for dessert, which was a bad mistake. From funnel cake and fried dough to candy apples and “shave ice,” the Feast delivers on the sugar front. Espresso? Yes, that, too.

All in all, I give the San Gennaro Feast five stars for providing a good time and fantastic food. The only thing I found slightly disappointing was the charge for “posh” restrooms. Unwilling to shell out an extra $3, I used a plebeian porta-potty, which would have been acceptable if it had been equipped with toilet tissue. Maybe I’m just a spoiled Las Vegan, but I think if you’ve paid $9 for admission to an event, you should be able to expect decent restroom accommodations without paying an additional fee. The event caters to families, but those with babies must pay the surcharge if they need changing tables.

The San Gennaro Feast runs through Sunday, but for extra fun, go on Wednesday. There’ll be a parade featuring the Knights of Columbus, and Mayor Goodman will make an appearance. The special events start at 7:00 p.m. On Sunday, September 19th, there will be a fireworks show at 9:00 p.m. A full schedule and more information is online here.

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