MmmMac and Cheese! Huntsville’s inaugural Macaroni Festival is this weekend



It’s classic comfort food and downright delicious—plus it has a connection to Huntsville’s past—and it’s finally getting the local celebration it deserves. Good old mac ‘n’ cheese, that staple of kids’ (and kids-at-heart) lunches everywhere, has its own festival launching this weekend.

More than 100 years ago, in 1913, the Strano Manufactory of Macaroni was established on Main Street, where the Algonquin Theatre is today—in that space there was both the macaroni factory and the then Lyceum theatre.

Susan Pryke’s Huntsville: With Spirit and Resolve tells us that “(Domenico Strano) came to Huntsville as the foreman of the Standard Chemical Company… Attracted by the business possibilities in Huntsville, Strano decided to open a bakery and macaroni factory in a building called the Strano block. The vibrant Italian community of tannery workers provided a ready market for Strano’s baked goods and range of pastas. He also shipped to Toronto and Montreal. Strano sold the business in 1926 to Martin Iverson.” (The building that housed the macaroni factory survived until February 24, 1992, when it was destroyed by fire.)

That history is being celebrated on Saturday, September 15 with the inaugural Macaroni Festival presented by the Downtown Huntsville BIA.

Seven downtown restaurants and one portable smoker—Affogato Café and Gelato, Burnt Ends BBQ, Huntsville Brewhouse, Main St. Local, Marigold Unique Flavors, Mill on Main, That Little Place By The Lights, and Whimsical Bakery—will be creating tasty macaroni dishes and festival goers get to decide which one is crowned the crowd favourite.

Sample tickets will be available for $2 apiece from a booth in front of Town Hall. With them you’ll receive a Pasta-Port information card with the locations and sample details, along with a ballot to vote for the one you think is best. Whet your appetite with the likes of jalapeño and cheddar mac and beer cheese croquettes with New England IPA jelly for dipping; gluten-free pulled pork mac and cheese bites and candied bacon mac and cheese gelato; creamy baked pancetta and pepper mac and cheese; smoked mac and cheese, and more. The winner will be declared the following week after all the ballots have been counted.

Local pasta chef Linda Morrin will be providing live pasta-making demonstrations so you can see how easy it is to make your own pasta.

Look for local artists painting and decorating paddles—in a pasta theme, of course—donated by Algonquin Outfitters. The BIA will donate the paddles back to Algonquin Outfitters for its Paddle Art Auction in the fall of 2019, the proceeds from which go to local arts and culture groups.

There will also be music on the Town Hall steps from The Deelies, the Fernglen Fiddleheads, Billy MacPherson and Barry “Bazza” Hayward. Participate in a drum circle or try out some square dancing—there will be pros available to show you how! And there will be games and Play-doh for kids from Muskoka Minds Alive.

And the 100K Market, with its assorted local food and artisan vendors, will move from its usual location on West Street onto Main Street for the festival.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on September 15, 2018. (Note that Main Street will be closed between Centre Street and Brunel Road starting at 7 a.m.)

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  1. My mother worked in Stranos Bakery when she was young , she had to go to work at 4 in the morning to wrap bread to be shipped out on the boats to the resorts and such . She made the grand sum of 5 dollars a month, my how things have changed.

    • Interestingly, Nike doesn’t pay much more than that in their sweat shops. And don’t forget that mac ‘n’ cheese is actually good for you: protein from the cheese, and quick energy from the pasta’s complex carbohydrates.

  2. Sounds great!

    Would encourage finding a way to ‘count’ ballots AT THE EVENT.
    The macaroni makers deserve kudos the day of the event – not a week later.
    – Plus anticipation of the contests results are very much a part of the events fun.

    (A row of little ‘ballot boxes’ at site of the former Strano Macaroni Factory with each Macaroni Makers name on it, with a quick count calculated as event winds down?)

    Bon appetite!

  3. so, dumb comment and perhaps too late in the game to effect a change, however, those of us who MUST eat gluten free cannot sample, hence vote for other the the gluten free item being served. So it appears that this has the potential to skew the votes, yes? no?

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