New Kensington doubled up on vendors, patrons at second annual wine and beer festival
Double the vendors, double the entertainment and double the attendance meant double the fun at the second annual Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce Wine and Beer Fest in New Kensington.
“We have more community involvement this year,” Chamber Executive Director Lynda Pozzuto said. “I think the people of New Kensington are embracing something positive in their area, something free and family-friendly and family safe to do. I think that has a lot to do with it. It took all of us to make this happen.”
The event took place Friday along Fifth Avenue. The road was blocked off from 8th to 10th streets as thousands sampled drinks, ate and viewed artwork from more than 50 vendors.
Newcomer Conny Creek Brewery from Allegheny Township served an oatmeal porter, a peach milkshake IPA and an Octoberfest brew.
“We’re here to be part of the movement,” owner Lee Layton said. “We’re here to support it all. We’re really excited about it. It’s great traffic, great business. It’s going to bring people out of Pittsburgh out to here to see what we have to offer.”
Food vendors included Fat Cat’s Subs, Baires Grill, Comfort Foods and Midwest Smokin’ BBQ. Drink vendors included Wooden Door Winery, Kingview Mead, Voodoo Brewery and DR Distillery.
Jimbo Jackson and his bandmates played music into the night. There were various games and artwork available for sale.
Belly dancers Jeannine Stanko of Creighton, East Deer and Tracey Anzaldi of Mars entertained the crowd with their exotic moves. MaryAnn Ireland of Lower Burrell, who’s not a belly dancer, joined them for a few songs anyway.
“I just thought I’d do something different,” Ireland said. “They’re very nice, very good (dancers). I’ve never been here before. I saw signs on the highway and wanted to come (to the festival).”
Planning for the festival began about three months ago. It was a collaborative effort between the chamber and the city.
The New Kensington recreation commission and multiple volunteers cleaned the streets and did other preparation work days before the event.
“This is tremendous,” Mayor Tom Guzzo said. “I am just extremely excited and happy about it. With all of the revitalization that’s going on down here, people from all over are coming down.
“People are discovering what a gem our town is becoming.”
Folks who wanted samples and buy drinks had to get a wristband.
Desiree Whitacre of New Kensington tried Fredonia red wine from Allegheny Township’s Wooden Door Winery. It was her first time at the festival.
“It’s something to do,” she said. “It’s beautiful weather, nice people.”
Many patrons were in good spirits and said the event was very positive for the community.
Sean Watson of Lower Burrell was one of those people.
“I’m enjoying it right now with everyone,” he said. “I’m here for downtown New Ken. This is something we’ve been talking about for a long time. Festivals are good. You get good food and good people.
“This is a reason to be in this town at night.”
Watson runs his architecture and building material business, sustain-ABLE matter(s) out of The Corner business development center in New Kensington.
Organizers said people have already inquired about next year’s festival.
More information about chamber events is available at allekiskistrong.com.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .