November 26, 2021

Celebrating St. Anthony

Cortland church to hold annual festival this weekend

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Mark Di Stefano, left, of Cortland, and Carl Fadale, of Homer, set up the St. Anthony’s Festival food tent Thursday under the watchful eye of St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things.

CORTLAND — A procession and festival this weekend hearkens back to the early 1900s and the history of how Italy came to Cortland.

The St. Anthony’s Festival at the Pomeroy Street church is a tradition for the Italian residents of Cortland, whose ancestors in 1905 decided to carry over to Cortland the religious processions they embarked on in their hometowns in Italy, said Stephanie Passeri-Densmore, co-chairwoman of the St. Anthony’s Festival.

The festival starts with a spaghetti dinner at 4 p.m. Saturday and has its procession after the Mass at 9:30 a.m Sunday. Food will be sold under the tents outside the church at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and the festival ends around 8 p.m. Sunday.

Those early ancestors formed the St. Anthony Society, said Passeri-Densmore, and in 1917 they helped found St. Anthony of Padua Church, which was rededicated in a new brick building in 1950.

Co-chairwoman Peg Dienhoffer decided to lead the committee years ago after winning the $2,500 prize that’s raffled off Sunday night. The raffle gives away $7,000 total in a series of cash prizes and starts weeks before the actual festival, she said, but that’s not why most people go.

“People come for the food, the entertainment and the camaraderie,” Dienhoffer said. “It’s just fun.”

The festival is also a very important revenue stream for the church, she said. But money isn’t the focus, said another co-chairman, Otto Janke.

“Our biggest concern is paying homage to our patron saint and to the family we have at St. Anthony’s and thanking our community for supporting us,” he said.

On Saturday, the festival includes a spaghetti dinner served inside St. Anthony’s starting at 4 p.m. and running until 8 p.m. Food starts being sold at the outdoor vendors at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and there are musical acts starting up and throughout the fireworks, which go off at 9:30 p.m., said Janke.

On Sunday food starts being sold at 12:30 p.m. and continues until about 8 p.m. with music throughout the day.

Festival highlights


4-7 p.m. — Spaghetti dinner
5:30 p.m. — Traditional Italian Mass
6:30 p.m. — The UnReal Duo – Tom Gath and Ted Walsh
7 p.m. — The Delta Mike Shaw Band
8 p.m. — The UnReal Duo
8:30 p.m. — Small Town Shade Sunday


9:30 a.m. — Mass and procession
1 p.m. — Cortland High Jazz Band
2 p.m. — Joe Nigro
2:30 p.m. — Rachel Beverly
3:30 p.m. — Joe Nigro
4 p.m. — Steve Daniels Swingtet
5 p.m. — Joe Nigro
5:30 p.m. — Old Timers Band
7:15 p.m. — Johnnie and Lonnie