French Festival draws crowds to Cape Vincent

·4 min read

Jul. 10—CAPE VINCENT — Broadway Street was once again filled as people from all over New York flocked to Cape Vincent's French Festival over the weekend.

Maureen Milke and her husband Dale are from the Rochester area and decided to check out the festival before heading home.

"We have a family cottage up the other side of Alex Bay and we're headed back to Rochester so we thought we'd swing through here and check it out on our way home," Mr. Milke said.

The French pastries, French bread and the vendors are what drew the couple to the festival.

Mykel "Quince" Myrick emceed the event.

"I love Cape Vincent, so I appreciate the opportunity, and imagine coming out here and having a beautiful day like today and seeing all these people," he said. "I just feel so energized and thankful."

Joan Lauricella, of Central Square, attended the festival to see the parade.

"My husband's parents have a camp on Point Peninsula so we come up and we try to make it to the French Festival every year," she said.

This was her first time at the festival in three years.

She said there were a lot more people at the festival this year than in previous years. Nicole Paratore, vice president of the Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce and festival chair, said she had heard the same thing.

"Some people are saying that they think that this is the biggest event they've seen here in 20 years," Ms. Paratore said. "I've only lived here 15 years, so I can't confirm or deny that and I don't know how people judge that, but I can tell you every parking area was full and we got to a point where we were running into some emergency challenges and we had to totally start blocking traffic in places we never had to block traffic because of the safety of cars coming through."

Francis A. Letizia Jr., co-owner of Telly's Inn, was upset with the way the streets were blocked off and said he is planning to sue the village over lost profits. He went on to say that he is "done with the chamber."

Ms. Paratore said that fire police were diverting traffic at Grant Road to see where drivers were going, and if they needed to come into town, they were allowed to.

"If people were trying to park, (the fire police) were diverting them right down Grant Road to our big parking lot to shuttle them into town," she said. She also said that if people told them they were going to drive into town not for the festival that they were allowed to.

Last year, due to having a smaller event because of the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic wasn't detoured onto Bay Street, according to Ms. Paratore. She also said every year prior, that has been where people have been diverted to park, and that it is up to New York state and up to what fire police say is best to keep people safe.

Ms. Paratore said the traffic diversions would stop after the parade, which was around 3:30 p.m.

Despite traffic not being diverted after the parade ended, Mr. Letizia said he still plans to sue for lost profits from noon until then.

Robin Adams, of Watertown, said she loves to watch the parade.

"There's a lot of people here today," she said. She thinks there were a lot of people out and about because of the previous two years being affected by the pandemic.

Jennifer Hynes, of Heuvelton, said she comes out every year to watch her daughter march in the parade. Ms. Hynes said she used to march in the parade as well.

Ms. Paratore said the chamber was excited to have the French Festival feel more normal this year.

"This has been a tradition for us in this community for over 50 years, and we're so excited to have it back and back to a normal size, and we're going to continue to do whatever we need to do to make it the right size for our community and make it a great event for people to come to," Ms. Paratore said.

The fun started Friday with a block party, continued all day Saturday with a parade and a fireworks show, and vendors wrapped up the weekend Sunday.

"I'm glad to see people are out and about and having a good time," Ms. Adams said.