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Familiar foods, faces at Rotterdam's Queen of Peace festa

Familiar foods, faces at Rotterdam's Queen of Peace festa

Annual celebration kicks off
Familiar foods, faces at Rotterdam's Queen of Peace festa
Danny Dobek of Rotterdam entertains the crowd with his accordion at the Our Lady Queen of Peace festa in Rotterdam Friday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

ROTTERDAM — The foods were familiar Friday night outside Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Rotterdam.

So were the faces.

While church members and church friends saluted summer with meatball, eggplant and sausage-pepper sandwiches, pasta fagioli, french fries and pizza, they also celebrated the season with hugs and conversation.

"It's a fundraiser," said Jim Stagnitti, co-chairman of the Our Lady Queen of Peace annual festa, "but more importantly, it's a community gathering to serve the community and show what a vibrant parish we have.

"It's a fun, family gathering," Stagnitti added. "You come out and there's something for everybody. You tend to see your friends here every year—you can rely on that."

PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Midway rides at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Festa in Rotterdam Friday, August 9, 2019.PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Midway rides at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Festa in Rotterdam Friday, August 9, 2019.

The festa's opener took place outdoors on a mild night with no heat or humidity. People set up rows of lawn chair in front of the music stage and danced to the brassy, electric sounds of Funk Evolution. Small children steered miniature jeeps on a programmed metal track; older kids tested their courage and constitutions on the Zero Gravity ride, which spins, tilts and then spins faster.

Stagnitti, at 52 a lifelong member of the parish, expects 3,000 people will visit the festa each night during the weekend. Music and food at the church, located at 210 Princetown Road, will continue Saturday from 5 until 11 p.m. The Sunday party begins at 3 and ends at 9 p.m.

Saturday's musical attraction—Audiostars. Grand Central Station will play Sunday.

Linda Keeley of Lakeland, Florida, is in town for the Constantino family reunion. She watched people and tried Italian-style foods with her local cousin, RoseAnne Goodman. She said she especially enjoys the music.

"They sing all the songs from our era, the '50s and '60s," she said.

Sheila Costello of Guilderland brought her young grandson, Robert Costello Jr., to the show.

PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Ed Sargalis enjoys fried at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Festa in Rotterdam Friday, August 9, 2019.PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Ed Sargalis enjoys fried at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Festa in Rotterdam Friday, August 9, 2019.

"It's tradition," she said. "My family has come here since I was probably 10 years old. We see people we haven't seen in a long time, so it's kind of nice."

Joan and Andy Gefre, who live in Rotterdam just a short walk from the church, agreed with Costello's assessment. 

"Good food, good fellowship, good weather," Joan said. "It's great to be alive to enjoy it."

"Just keeping up with tradition, I guess," added Andy.

Cadence Gray, 8, of Rotterdam, cared more about the motor diversions. She was hoping her time at the festa would run deep into the evening. Amber Gray, Cadence's mother, was not so sure. "We'll see how long it takes to get through the rides," she said.

Others shopped at the festa's second-hand goods sale. Photo albums—without photos—and floral vases were on sale. So were sunglasses, books, kitchen utensils, candle holders and dozens of other items.

Some people traveled for their cups of Coors Light and minestra. Gary Ringler drove to Rotterdam from Albany.

"I just love going to church festas," he said. "They have great food and I like to support the church. Albany doesn't have any of this stuff any more. It's all Schenectady."

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

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