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Long Island Fall Festival

Bob Bontempi, of Huntington, recognized as one of TBR News Media's 2017 People of Year

Huntington resident Bob Bontempi, center, at an event hosted by Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. Photo from Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.

By Kyle Barr

There are qualities that allow a person to excel no matter what they are doing or put their mind to. Huntington residents who know Bob Bontempi say it’s his simple ability to listen that makes him so capable.

“He has a way of making you comfortable and feel more important than anyone else in the room,” said Jim Powers, president of The Townwide Fund of Huntington. “He’s very easy to get to know, and he’s giving you compliments half the time even when he’s doing something right — not you.”

A longtime Huntington resident, Bontempi has bridged the gap between business professionals, charities and government in the Town of Huntington.

“Bontempi in Italian means ‘good times’, and we like to call him, ‘Bobby good times,’” said Brian Yudewitz, chairman of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. “If a colleague or a friend needs guidance with a problem they’re having or an opportunity they have with work, he’s the guy to talk to. He’s so good at identifying issues and working toward solutions in that area, as well as the local political area as well.”

Bob Bontempi, former chairman of the Huntington Tonwship Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Long Island Fall Festival. Photo from Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.

Bontempi served as chairman of the Huntington  Township Chamber of Commerce from 2009 to 2013. He remains the driving force behind the annual Long Island Fall  Festival, an event that he said showcases
everything that Huntington has to offer — and is proud of.

“The chamber of commerce is a great example of Bontempi’s work. You don’t get paid to be the chairman and the amount of work that you have to do to give back is huge,” state Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) said. “So that just typifies what kind of person he is that he’s willing to go that extra mile to make sure things go well. He has a heart of gold and he’s willing to share that heart with everybody.”

Bontempi is also a founding board member of the Long Island Business Council. This year, he started the Huntington Township Business Council Political Action Committee to raise funds and give campaign contributions to political candidates who members felt would benefit downtown businesses.

“He’s not afraid to get involved in any social issue or political issue,” said Robert Scheiner, vice chairman of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. “He is very, very up front with his opinion.”

But Bontempi is more than a businessman. As the Northeast regional business director at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, he is also involved in numerous local charities. He previously served on the board of Pederson-Krag Center, a nonprofit mental health care provider, and served on the advisory board for Splashes of Hope, a charity that uses paintings to improve hospital aesthetics. Bontempi is a supporter of Moonjumpers, a Huntington-based charitable foundation that provides financial assistance for needy families, children, veterans and other charitable organizations.

“He’s a guy who is very committed to the town and to the betterment of the people,” Scheiner said. “Bob is the kind of guy you go to for anything, and there’s very few people that you can count on like that, only the number of fingers on your hands.”

Friends and colleagues alike marvel at how many organizations Bontempi has been involved in. They laud his compassion and attention to anything involving the Town of Huntington.

“I think [Bontempi is] a very dedicated civic-minded individual that really tries to help people and just make Huntington and our community a better place,” said Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci (R). “He has a ton of energy and it doesn’t matter if he’s traveling for business or if he’s right here in Huntington, he’s always very
accessible, he’s always willing to help out the community.

Thousands flocked to the annual Long Island Fall Festival, hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Town of Huntington, in Heckscher Park from Oct. 6 to 9. The event was lively Saturday as unseasonably warm weather brought attendees out to enjoy a variety of live performances, street vendors, carnival rides and games. Rainy weather thinned the crowd later in the weekend, but did not stop the festivities.

Huntington Town celebrated fall this weekend at the annual Long Island Fall Festival. The event, free to the public, is organized by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and spans Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12. Festivities include a carnival, food courts, entertainment, vendors, animals and more.

A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Come Oct. 9, Heckscher Park in Huntington will transform into a hub of fall festivity.

The 22nd annual Long Island Fall Festival, which will run until Oct. 12, throughout Columbus Day weekend, will fill the park with fun, featuring vendors, music, food and more. The event is hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Huntington Town.

According to the festival’s website, “This community event highlights the best Huntington has to offer — from its civic-minded businesses, cultural institutions and service organizations, to its restaurants, pubs and retailers.”

More than 300 craft, promotional, retail and non-for-profit vendors will line Prime and Madison streets, adjacent to Heckscher Park, as well as within the grounds of the park.

A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza
A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Much like previous years, the festival will have a number of returning vendors, but there will be some new faces, according to Ellen O’Brien, executive director of the chamber. Those include vendors who make birdhouses, sea glass jewelry and more. And for the first time in many years, the festival will feature a farmers’ market.

“It’s always changing,” she said in an August phone interview. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Some of the main attractions include four stages of live entertainment, a beer and wine tent, a world-class carnival, two international food courts, a Sunday main stage dedicated to youth talent and more.

O’Brien said that tens of thousands of people frequent the fall festival each day. She also said she’s heard that the festival’s grossed 200,000 park-goers in one weekend.

The chamber’s always on the hunt for new vendors, but space does fill up fast. People learn about the festival through different venues, O’Brien said.

“I think it’s word-of-mouth,” she said. “I think it’s got a mind of its own at this point.”

Those interested in attending the festival can take the Long Island Rail Road to Huntington. There’s free parking at the LIRR train station during that weekend, and round-trip shuttles will run all day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., for $1, on Saturday and Sunday, she said.

The festival begins Friday, Oct. 9, 5 to 9 p.m., and that night will feature a carnival, food court and music on stage. The fun will continue Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and that day will include vendors, music and shows, a food court and a carnival.

The same activities will be available the following day, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. And Monday, the festival wraps up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information and to get involved in this year’s festival, call (631) 423-6100 or visit www.lifallfestival.com.