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Long Island Fall Festival

Scene from the 2023 Long Island Fall Festival. Photo by Media Origin

By Steven Zaitz and Michael Scro

The 29th annual Long Island Fall Festival returned to Heckscher Park in Huntington for the Columbus Day weekend. 

Held from Oct. 6 through 9 and hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Huntington, hundreds flocked to enjoy fall-themed entertainment, vendors from local businesses, live music and an array of rides, food and wine and lively demonstrations for families.

Despite the inclement weather during most of Saturday, Long Islanders were treated to entertainment at the Harry Chapin Stage, a carnival, a variety of food vendors, including a craft beer and wine tent, as well as games and rides for young and old alike.

Performances by the Fat Nicky and the Snacks, Rusty Spur Band, Fleetwood Macked, The Electric Dudes and The Day Trippers  — a Beatles tribute band — headlined the weekend. Many youth and high school-aged acts graced the stage, too, including from the Nassau BOCES Long Island High School for the Arts, Munro Music of East Northport and Laura’s Dance & Fitness Studio of Huntington.

As fall weather settles in, the celebration proves each year to be a highlight for Huntington and Long Island, ushering in the crisp weather and keeping spirits alive and well to kick off the 2023 holiday season.

'Illuminations' will be presented during the Long Island Fall Festival on Oct. 7 and 8. Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum

By Tara Mae 

As Columbus Day weekend draws near, many look forward to the annual Long Island Fall Festival at beautiful Heckscher Park in Huntington. Presented by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, the four day event, from Oct. 6 to 9, will feature carnival rides, an international food court, music, over 300 vendors, and much more. 

One of the highlights of this year’s festival is a multimedia art installation titled Illuminations 2023: The Many Faces of Home.

If home is where the heart is, then leaving one home for another is perhaps a sort of heart transplant. A fresh lease on life: wistful and wondrous. On Oct. 7 and 8, from 7 to 8 p.m., the digital art show will spotlight the physical and emotional journeys immigrants undertake as they settle in foreign places and seek to make them familiar. 

Featuring the work by Stony Brook University adjunct art professor and digital artist Han Qin as well as other international artists, this digital art show features three intricately connected yet distinctive works, which will be projected onto the facade of an artistic hearth: the Heckscher Museum of Art located in Heckscher Park.

“It feels like the perfect space for such an event,” said Heather Arnet, Executive Director of the Heckscher Museum.

My New Home, by Qin, depicts and celebrates the immigration experience through a 3D image projection showing portraits of diverse community members who immigrated to Huntington and made it home. 

Journey Home, also by Qin, is an animated film projection. In ocean hues, it spotlights a school of fish that transforms into groups of people swimming to their new island home.  

The Grand Finale is a collaborative collection of engaging animation by six different international artists: Blake Carrington, Koi Ren, Yehwan Song, Silent Desautels, Shuyi Li, and Colton Arnold. 

The show is choreographed to original music composed by Professor Margaret Schedel, co-director of Stony Brook University’s Computer Music Program. “Margaret’s music…has dark energy that transforms into immense joy,” Illuminations co-curator Chiarina Chen said.

Shown consecutively, the elements of Illuminations likewise take patrons on a sojourn of the soul: from pensive introspection to audacious hope. The show immerses its audience in artistic excavation of existential inquiries. 

These questions were initially posited by Qin as part of her continuous exploration of, and meditation on, the identity quandaries immigrants may endure as they transition from their homeland to the precarious promise of a settled future. 

“My digital art piece works with the community of immigrants who speak different languages on Long Island. Its purpose is to show this group of marginalized immigrants — who they are looking to become or who their kids are looking to become, who holds the community together…this is a self-help project to figure out who those immigrants become,” Qin said. 

Such an investigation is personal for Qin who, during lockdown, began examining feeling adrift in her own immigrant identity: not quite of China, her nation of birth, nor the United States, her country of choice. 

“I was looking for a way to find people who know who they are,” Qin added. She got involved with different organizations that focused on the immigrant experiences of adolescents and adults. The relationships she formed through these endeavors answered questions her art was striving to ask.   

With a New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA) grant processed through the Patchogue Arts Council, she was able to develop her artistic thesis from a intuitive theory into an expansive experience. 

As Qin crafted personal connections that revealed uncovered communal correlations, she utilized her professional network to recruit colleagues in curating and creating the third segment of Illuminations. 

“We invited six very interesting, talented international artists of various backgrounds. We have six parts in that: traversing memories, dreams, identities that are searching for belonging-cohesive with unique parts…digital art can be a public art form that brings people together, a sort of enchantment,” Chen said. “When connected stories are projected on the building, it becomes another level of togetherness.”  

Schedel’s music both belies and enhances the union. She composed six segments of music. Each has its own tempo and mini theme that nonetheless coalesces into a cohesive whole. Included in the piece are interviews with community leaders as well as water sounds; many people interviewed mentioned water as part of their immigration experience.

“It is a piece of music I composed to go along with the timeline that Han and I developed together, thinking of structure, movement, and emotion,” Schedel said. 

In its entirety, Illuminations is a medley of form, motion, and feeling. At its essence, the art is an overture of communal acceptance and understanding.  

Illuminations celebrates immigrants, their influence on our community, and why they chose Long Island…It [seems] like a wonderful opportunity for the museum,” Arnet said. 

This is the Hecksher Museum’s first exhibition specifically designed for the Long Island Fall Festival, although the concept of home is one that is currently studied in its Raise the Roof exhibit, which is a study of the spaces people inhabit. 

Arnet approached Qin, who has pieces in the museum’s permanent collection, about doing a digital art projection on the front of the building. Qin was already in the process of developing My New Home and Journey Home. Illuminations was born of those discussions.

“What is exciting is that we are trying something new, which always involves risk. This is innovative, we are trying out the unknown, none of us quite know what it will be like…I am very interested in moving beyond four walls, engaging community in unique ways,” Arnet said.

Illuminations 2023: The Many Faces of Home at the Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington is free to the public. For more information, call 631-380-3230 or visit www.heckscher.org

The Long Island Fall Festival 2022/Photo by Media Origins/TBR News Media

A beloved tradition is returning to Huntington. The Long Island Fall Festival heads to Heckscher Park for its 29th annual incarnation for Columbus Day weekend. 

The largest of its kind in the Northeast, the Long Island Fall Festival has become the premiere event for family fun. Brought to you by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Huntington, this event attracts tens of thousands of families from all over the New York tri-state area to the 25 acres of beautiful Heckscher Park.

Truly a celebration of community spirit, this weekend event offers something for everyone. Attractions include three stages of live entertainment, a world-class carnival, hundreds of arts and craft vendors, international food courts, beer and wine pavilion, a farmer’s market, and numerous activities and entertainment designed especially for young children.

The festival begins with a carnival and live music on Friday, Oct. 6, from 5 to 10 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., attendees can enjoy the carnival and more live music as well as enter contests and purchase merchandise from street vendors. Over 300 merchants will line up along Prime and Madison streets, adjacent to Heckscher Park, as well as within the grounds of the park. 

On Monday, Oct. 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the festival will offer the carnival and in-park vendors for another day of fall fun. 

Underwritten completely through corporate sponsorships, admission to the public is FREE. Dogs are welcome.

Heckscher Park is located at 2 Prime Avenue in Huntington. In addition to street parking, attendees can find free parking at the Huntington LIRR station and take a shuttle bus for $1 round trip. For more information and to get involved in this year’s Long Island Fall Festival, call 631-423-6100, or visit www.lifallfestival.com.

This article originally appeared in TBR News Media’s Harvest Times supplement on Sept.14.

All photos by Media Origin

For nearly 30 years, the Long Island Fall Festival has welcomed autumn to Huntington during the Columbus Day weekend. This year the event took place Friday, Oct. 7, though Monday, Oct. 10.

The admission-free festival, hosted by Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Huntington, featured carnival rides, live music, beer garden, international food court and more than 300 vendors on Saturday and Sunday.

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.