Last year, despite the little planning that went into it and its short notice, the event still attracted about 3,000 people said Feast organizers, adding that they expect the numbers this year to reach 4,000 or 5,000.
"Last year was trial and error. The town graced it and it was successful for the (little time we had to prepare)," said Jim Cleffi, of the Montville UNICO foundation. "It was a labor of love for members that participated and (non-member) relatives even helped out a lot too."
He added that this year, they had 12 months of planning and were able to get the vendors and local supporters for an event like this.
“The original festival was started by Italian immigrants from Naples, Italy wishing to honor their patron saint, St. Gennaro. Continuing the tradition, Montville UNICO will celebrate Italian culture and food with four days of rides, games, food, live entertainment, a mega 50/50, and more,” according to the Patch event listing.
The reason why Montville UNICO chose to do a San Gennaro Feast was because they were "searching for a good type of event that would appease most of the community," said Cleffi. "The town used to have a big fourth of July celebration with a parade, carnival and fireworks, but now it's just fireworks."
He added that the foundation was looking to fill that gap and San Gennaro fit well due to its draw.
"Most of us from the older generation went to New York City for the San Gennaro feast," said Cleffi. "But it's changed over the years and it's costly to go into the city for us. Also, the younger generation said their parents and grandparents always spoke of it, so it seemed to be the right event to pick."
"The Township has supported us wholeheartedly," said Gene Maddelema, Vice President and co-chair of the Feast.
Lakeland Bank is the significant event sponsor and there's a large picture of St. Gennaro at the carnival with a option for donations. Under it is a sign explaining the Feast's origin: "Since 1926, immigrants in NYC celebrate the Feast of San Gennaro inviting all to partake in their wares, pinning ribbons of money onto the statue. This money was then distributed to the needy, poor and sick throughout the neighborhood through the churches."
All donations from this weekend were dedicated to St. Pius and St. Peters Church.
"The funds go back to benefit the community," Maddelema. "So far it's going quite well this year."
"The weather's spectacular," said Cleffi.
Go to Montville UNICO’s website for more information and click here to check out the photo gallery from last year’s festival.