Thursday July 20, 2006
Record crowd expected at Spiedie Fest

Dave Pessagno, event coordinator of the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally Expo, speaks Wednesday at Otsiningo Park.

REBECCA TOWNS / Press & Sun-Bulletin

By Aimee Milks
Press & Sun-Bulletin

DICKINSON -- The 22nd annual Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally Expo is just over two weeks away, and event coordinator David Pessagno said this year's festival will be bigger and better than ever.

"Weather permitting, I think we'll have 110,000 people (encompassing all three days) this year," Pessagno said. "That will top the record of 105,000 two years ago."

The Spiedie Fest will take place from Aug. 4 through Aug. 6 at the Otsiningo Park, and this year's theme revolves around the American Idol phenomenon, Pessagno said. The Wild 104 Summer Jam will feature past American Idol contestants Constantine Maroulis, Nikko Smith, Anthony Fedorov and Kevin Covais, who will perform on Aug. 6.

This year's Binghamton Idol winner is also secured a spot to audition in front of the American Idol producers in New Jersey for a chance to be the next American Idol, said Matthew Johnson, program director at Wild 104, at a news conference Wednesday morning. The Binghamton Idol contest will take place on Aug. 5.

Latoya London, who was supposed to be in the line-up, was offered a part on Broadway and will be replaced by Smith, Pessagno said.

Other musical guests will be Mark Farner, Mark Wills and John Corbett, presented by 99.1 The Whale, 98.1 The Hawk and the Recording Artists Showcase, which will present more than 20 different local and regional bands. "We try to out-do the year before, and I think we have," said Mary Beth Walsh, marketing manager for Citadel Broadcasting.

The event also will feature such annual staples as the hot-air balloon launches, the children's area, the Kelly LaBare 5K walk/run, more than 200 craft vendors, 35 food vendors and the spiedie cooking contest.

"We'll never lose the home-town flavor with the spiedie cooking contest," Pessagno said.

Additional events include the Dale Earnhardt Jr. show car, an autograph session with former WWE wrestler Mick Foley, and a meet and greet with the former American idol contestants.

"With the tragic loss of the B.C. Open and the flood, this will boost the community," said Kevin O'Hara, president of the board for the Spiedie Fest. "We really expect a great event this year."

2005 Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin