Where can you get your fix of both sausage and peppers and Megasauraus the monster truck? Why, it's a perfect early fall weekend in the Wildwoods, of course.
The fifth annual Olde Time Italian Festival - with a new addition, the Amore Italiano Stage Show - and Thunder on the Beach Monster Truck events are just part of what some call the best season on Five Mile Beach: post-Labor Day, still-beautiful-weather, laid-back but plenty to do, no crazy summertime crush.
Presented by the Sons of Italy, the Italian festival conjures up the Old World with mouth-watering aromas and tastes. The free two-day festival celebrates Italian culture with contests, crafts, rides and games for kids - and of course authentic Italian cuisine featured in a marketplace setting. You'll find Italian crafts and favorite foods like pastas, sausages, chicken cutlets, clams and spaghetti, tiramisu, cannoli and more.
Enjoy live entertainment throughout the weekend. The fun kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, the way any big Italian celebration does - with a Procession of Saints Mass. Music begins at 6 p.m. with Ideal 71; the David Christopher Band and Emil Stuccio and the Classics.
Saturday's festivities include a live radio broadcas by FUN-FM 106.7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Don't miss the 2 p.m. meatball-making and pizza-tossing contests. Music starts at 3 p.m. with 45 RPM, Idea 71, Tre Bella, Tom Pisi and Wildness, Del Satins, and Larry Chance and the Earls.
Produced by Everybody Loves Italian Productions, Sunday's 2 p.m. Amore Italiano Stage Show rekindles memories through music, conversation and dance. Bandleader Carl Granieri and his orchestra takes guests on a musical journey through old-world Italy. The show's co-host - vocalist and storyteller Franco (aka show produce Frank Granieri, Carl's brother) - transports listeners to beautiful places on the sunny shores of Italy via humorous and musical broken-English recollections of the Italian American experience. The show features professional dancers demonstrating traditional Italian dances, including the Tarantella.
"It's a show that promotes everything that is good and uplifting about the Italian culture - very strong family values, love of the good things in life," says Carl Granieri, who spent 12 years as musical director for both the Sands and Showboat casinos in Atlantic City. "It's going to be a lot of fun with very high quality performers who have played with all the biggest stars."
Granieri was featured pianist for the Miss America Pageant Orchestra in the 1980s and has performed five musical tours of Italy and other European countries. He has worked with Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Luciano Pavarotti, Elton John, Bob Hope and many others.
Granieri's orchestra is comprised of Rosemary Salotti, song stylist/vocalist, who was named Atlantic City Magazine's Entertainer of the Year; Susan Davenport, who was first violinist for Andrea Bocelli Orchestra in Atlantic City and is well-known for her performance of the Bocelli classic "Time to Say Goodbye;" Howard Isaacson, saxophonist, who has appeared on albums with Tony Bennett and KD Lang, and has three CDs currently receiving worldwide airplay; Clifford Buggs, trumpeter, who is a veteran of jazz fests and superstar showrooms up and down the Atlantic Coast and has been a soloist for Aretha Franklin in Atlantic City; bassist Jim Hines, who has performed at the World Trade Center with Coretta Scott King and Michael Brecker, and regularly in Atlantic City backing up Frankie Avalon and the Golden Boys; guitarist and mandolin player Peter Nicotera, who is a former musical director for Van Morrison and wrote music for the Winter Olympics; and trombonist Paul Arbogast, veteran of Broadway theater, who has performed on several musical tours of Spain and the Mediterranean with the National Symphony Orchestra.
The scene will be quite a bit more rough-and-tumble a few blocks away, where the country's biggest monster trucks - Grave Digger, Spiderman, Avenger, Brutus, Crustation, Gunslinger, Bad Habit and Megasaurus - battle it out for title of "King of the Beach."
New Jersey Thunder Motorsports Inc. brings the thrill and exhilaration of Monster Truck Racing to the Wildwoods with Thunder on the Beach Monster Truck Races and Monster Truck Block Party.
The fun kicks off with a free Monster Truck Block Party from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at Scoop Taylor Park, Heather and Ocean Avenues, Wildwood Crest. Enthusiasts will find food and shopping vendors, meet monster truck drivers and see the weekend's impressive monster trucks up close. Monster truck rides on the beach also will be available for half the regular price during the block party.
Saturday, the real action starts when Thunder on the Beach competition begins, continuing through Sunday. Three action-packed shows take place, rain or shine, to determine a winner. The shows also include Quad Wars, a Tough Truck Competition and amazing stunts.
Also, make time to check out the Mid Atlantic Law Enforcement Survivors Weekend from Friday to Sunday; Ed's Funcade Haunted Treasure Hunt and Dairy Queen Ice Cream Eating Contest on Saturday; and the 56th Annual Pennsauken Surf Fishing Club Tournament, also on Saturday.
Mark your calendars for all the great stuff happening later this month, including Thunder on the Sand Pro/Am Sanctioned Motocross Races Friday, Oct. 8, through Sunday, Oct. 10, coinciding with the Wildwoods Seafood & Music Festival.
Olde Time Italian Festival with Amore Italiano Stage Show; Centennial Monster Truck Expo/Block Party and Thunder on the Beach
WHEN: Italian Festival Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1 and 2, stage show 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3; Monster Truck Block Party and Thunder on the Beach, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1; shows are at noon and 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, and noon Sunday, Oct. 3.
WHERE: Festival is at Fox Park, Ocean Avenue between Burk and Montgomery avenues, across from Wildwoods Convention Center, 4501 Boardwalk, Wildwood. Stage Show is in the Convention Center. Thunder on the Beach Block Party, Scoop Taylor Park, Heather and Ocean avenues, Wildwood Crest. Thunder on the Beach races, Lincoln Avenue and the beach, Wildwood
HOW MUCH: Festival: Free. Amore Italiano Stage Show: $25 at www.Ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000. Also at the Wildwoods Convention Center Box Office, Wildwood Sons Of Italy, 609-374-0016, or Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, Exit 11 on the Garden State Parkway, at 609-465-7181. Monster Truck races bleacher seats: $20 adults, $15 children at www.shop.thundermoto.com.