The lines for the zeppoles are back, just as long, and still worth the wait.
All that can only mean that the annual Cellini Lodge Fest returned Wednesday night to the parking field at Michael J. Tully Park for its 5 days of festivities, food and fun.
"It's more people this year than it was last year," Fest co-chair Alfonso Squillante said, noting how the fair contracted to bring back the original ride group of Islandia-based Blue Sky Entertainment.
"I think this year going back to where we were originally brought back the crowds that knew them, that are used to them. I think we got better rides here tonight."
Gates will open tonight at 7:30 p.m. with $1 admission.
"I think there's a very big community support this year," Squillante said, "it's definitely more people than normal."
Crews were busy Tuesday afternoon readying the number of rides, stands and attractions in the park parking lot while Cellini members were setting up tents for the international food pavilion.
In addition to the staples such as rides, pastries and games, there will be a variety of musical entertainment across the festival, including "the Generators" on Wednesday, "Head Over Heels" on Thursday, "Risky Business" Friday night, Don Felice (Italian Night) on Saturday. Sunday night's entertainment is still to be determined.
There will also be a fireworks spectacular on Saturday night.
Two years ago the festival was greatly impacted due to the effects of Hurricane Irene on the opening weekend, with organizers losing both days to the inclimate weather.
In 2012 about 27,000 people came to the festival over the course of the five days, still less than the 35,000-40,000 record.
"Last year was actually quite low," Squillante said. "This is really the money that funds all those philanthropy things that we do."
The festival brings in approximately 80 percent of the lodge’s revenue for the year and helps to support the as well as other charities.
Last year the lodge raised more than $50,000 and Squillante said "we'd like to do more this year," though declined to set a specific target other than "the stars; I'm aiming at $70,000, but who knows if that's going to happen."
All money from the appropriately named “Vegas” tent will also be given away to charities, while the confections tent helps defer operating costs from the festival.