A Tail of Two Festivals

The Annual Long Island Family Festival has continued to grow every year since it began just seven years ago. This festival stands out from others because it has a variety of features that can entertain people of all ages.

Every year the festival takes place at Tanner Park in Copiague, NY.

“The festival has grown significantly over the years to become one of the fastest growing festivals on Long Island and possibly within the Northeast,” Alyssa Nightingale, President of Nightingale & Nightingale and one of the organizers of the festival, said.

This year it took place from Friday, September 12th to Sunday, September 14th.

“This fair is great,” Liz Monaco, owner of Lizzy’s Mini’s said.  “There is a lot of people, they have a lot of things going on including the expos.  It has something for everyone so there are a lot more people here compared to other fairs I go to.”

Monaco sells her baked goods at many different Long Island fairs, but feels like she sells a lot at Copiague because of the increase in people. On the first day, Monaco sold out of her baked goods and within the first hour had to restock.

“The festival, in addition to providing fun, has become a tool to economically stimulate the local vendor business,” Nightingale said.

This year, 100 vendors spaces were reserved and almost sold out. The organizers are now looking at the vendor layout to see how additional vendors can be incorporated in the future.

“We get between 5,000-7,000 people each year,” Sharon Fattoruso, President of the Copiague Chamber, said. “We did take a little hit this year because of the weather yesterday and we had to close down early.  But today I think we are making up for it.”

Fattoruso started the festival seven years ago, along with Nightingale and others from the Copiague Chamber of Commerce, and she has watched it grown.

When Steven Bellone was serving as the Supervisor of the Town of Babylon, he approached Fattoruso and asked her if she would be interested in starting a festival. From there, it took off full speed ahead.

One of the major aspects of this festival is the Long Island Pet Expo in the Park.

“I do not know of any other festival that incorporates this type of pet expo element,” Nightingale said. “And we seem to be one of the only pet friendly festival which incorporates our furry four-legged family members.”

The pet expo became part of the festival six years ago with 30 vendors. This year the expo has doubled the number of vendors, many of them selling different pet related products. In addition, a lot of rescue adoption groups come hoping to get some of their puppies adopted.

“We have a frisbee demonstration, agility, dancing with the dogs, and we also have some contests,” Karen Garetano, organizer of the Long Island Pet Expo, said. “Yesterday was a costume contest where the people come with their pets can participate.  Today we did a parade of breeds.  We also have a jungle wildlife show.  We try to do a little bit of everything.”

John Reid, a magician and balloon artist with Tricky Business in East Meadow, said that the Long Island Family Festival is one of his favorites to perform at.

“I did the festival last year, and it is always a great turn out,” Reid said. “The people are really nice, the vendors and the people who run the rides are all very nice and kind and they are not your typical carny-folk, who can be rude and in your face.”

Overall the fair gets a positive reaction from the public and local residents.

“It’s a good atmosphere,” Sydney Ballard of Bayshore, said.

Fattoruso and the rest of the organizers are excited for the future of the festival since it grew so quickly in such a short amount of time.

“I see it getting bigger each year and I am hoping someday we will be as well known as the Oyster Bay Festival or the Huntington Festival,” Fattoruso said.

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