A summer of culture

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The Spectrum

Nothing says summer in Buffalo like Italian ice, Polish sausage and Greek
souvlaki, and heritage festivals are the best place to grab these delicious eats and celebrate the diversity of the city.

Held every year in Buffalo's Little Italy community on 1207 Hertel Avenue, The Sorrento Cheese Italian Heritage Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of Buffalonians.

This year's festival will be held from July 15 to July 18, and throughout the four-day event, The Formula Band, Exit, The Divas and Boys of Summer are just a few names that will entertain the crowd with live musical performances on the main stage.

With special events such as Italian Idol, the Second Annual Cheese Building Contest, the Miss Italian Festival and the Bocce tournament, Italian pride is sure to be alive and well.

New to this year's festival is the first annual "Dancing Under the Stars" competition, sponsored by Folonari Wines and Channel 7, which will take place on July 18. Baby Joe Mesi, Tony Masiello and Dennis Di Paolo will put their best feet forward as they prepare to twirl across the stage with dancing instructors from David DeMarie Studios and Spezio's Dance Dynamics.

Some of the Queen City's most popular Italian restaurants, such as Marco's Italian Restaurant and Ristorante Lombardo, will hold cooking demonstrations for those wanting to tap into their inner chef and cook like the professionals.

Admission into the Italian Heritage Festival is free to all who crave a taste of Italy. More information can be found at www.buffaloitalianfestival.com.

Become Greek for a day at the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, located at 146 West Utica Street. This is the site of Buffalo's 33rd Annual Greek Fest, taking place June 4 to June 6.

Since 1971, the Buffalo Greek Fest has grown into a community affair where people of all ages gather to celebrate Greek culture.
A $2 admission price will grant festival-goers access to the finest Greek cuisine, dancing and music the city has to offer. Children 12 and under are free of charge.

Attendees will be able to try some mouthwatering Greek lamb roast or traditional Greek pastries like baklava and loukoumades – a Greek fried dough – while sipping on some Greek coffee and enjoying the sights of sounds of Greece.

Church tours will be given throughout the celebration so guests can learn more about the Orthodox Christian faith and the ornate design and structure of the church.

To learn more about the Greek Fest, visit www.buffalogreekfest.org.

Festival-goers are encouraged to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Polish Union of America at the Polish Heritage Festival. The event will be held at the Hamburg Fairgrounds in Hamburg, NY on June 11 and June 12.

The Polish Heritage Festival is famous for breaking the Guinness World Record for the most fish fry dinners served at an event. A whopping 2,552 fish fry dinners were served in 2008.

The John Gora Band, the Ludowa Nuta choir and the Polish Heritage Dancers of Western New York will be present to liven the atmosphere and promote a true Polish-American spirit.

Daredevils will have the chance to experience flying in a helicopter, courtesy of H&L Enterprises of WNY LLC, and food lovers will have the opportunity to enter a pierogi eating contest or taste a variety of Polish desserts, provided by local vendors.

Those looking to broaden their horizons can take a mini-class on Polish culture and language taught by the Polish Saturday School, or can participate in a number of other historical festivities.

For admission prices to the Polish Heritage Festival, visit www.polfunfest.com.

E-mail: features@ubspectrum.com