SCHENECTADY – Citing the ongoing labor shortage during the coronavirus pandemic, the Little Italy Business Association announced Tuesday it is canceling the 16th Little Italy StreetFest planned for Sept. 11.
The event usually draws 10,000 people to North Jay Street, said Maria Papa, co-owner of Perreca’s Bakery and owner of More Perreca’s Italian Kitchen.
“Employee fatigue is very real for our employees,” Papa said Tuesday. “That’s actually a very large factor. So, we decided that in order to do the festival and to give the public what they’ve come to expect from a wonderful street fest, we were not able to realistically do that this year. So we’re looking forward to next year.”
Papa called it a very difficult decision.
A resurgence in COVID-19 cases “certainly doesn’t help,” though that wasn’t a major reason for canceling, Papa said.
In addition to employees of the Perreca businesses, Kristin’s Terme on Jay Street hair salon, Civitello’s dessert shop, Doreen Ditoro, who co-owns a funeral home in the neighborhood, helped put the event together. Mopco improv theatre provides “really interesting contributions every year and are integral to this,” Papa said.
In Albany, LarkFest is also a no-go this year because of COVID-19 regulations and staffing levels organizers announced Tuesday.
Traditionally held in September, the festival draws thousands of people to downtown Albany for a day of live music and vendors. It’s organized by the Lark Street Business Improvement District.
“For a number of reasons, including the size and nature of this particular event, local and CDC COVID regulations, staffing levels amongst the businesses on the street, and limitations on the BID’s Board and staff to fundraise via other events, the BID Board made the difficult decision to not host LarkFest in 2021 but to take the summer, fall and winter of 2021 to focus on smaller events such as the Farmers’ Market, First Friday and the Twilight Market, Art on Lark which will be held this coming Saturday, Small Business Saturday, and the annual Santa Speedo Run,” organizers said in a statement.
Previously, LarkFest has drawn an estimated 80,000 people and featured performances by bands like Prince Daddy and The Hyena, Bear Grass and Ryan Leddick. It was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.
The announcement came the same day organizers of Schenectady’s Little Italy Streetfest announced the cancellation of that September event over staffing shortages and employee fatigue.