Two childhood friends whose shared tie is a community they love are planning a celebration of what makes Commack unique.
The newly revived and first Commack Day will be held Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve off New Highway. Everyone’s invited, Commack resident or not, to help revive a tradition and bring it into the modern era.
James Manikas, a Commack resident, and local real estate agent said the idea of hosting a community festival first came up when he was reminiscing over high school memories with his friend, Commack native Dean Spinato.
“There’s a Smithtown day, St. James day, a Nesconset day, Huntington fall festival, even Northport Cow Harbor Day, all of the surrounding towns have something like this.”
— James Manikas
“There’s a Smithtown day, St. James day, a Nesconset day, Huntington fall festival, even Northport Cow Harbor Day, all of the surrounding towns have something like this,” Manikas said. “Wouldn’t it be cool to shut down Commack Road and have a big fair?”
The real estate agent said upon talking to older Commack residents, including his mother, he learned the community did once host an annual get together at Hoyt Nature Preserve, but the event hadn’t been held in close to 30 years.
“I think I may have attended it as a child,” he recalled.
Earlier this year, Manikas started posting videos and photos on Facebook suggesting a community celebration be revived. As his social media posts gained traction, Spinato, who works organizing marketing events, reached out to him offering to help.
“I reached out to Jimmy and said, ‘I’m on board,’” he said. “We’ve been friends since junior high, so let’s do this the right way. Let’s do a donation, give back and get the community involved.”
The first idea of shutting down Commack Road to hold a street fair was met with several roadblocks.
“Commack has nothing because it’s split between Huntington and Smithtown,” Spinato said. “We’d have to go to both towns and see which road we would be able to shut down and get permits.”
They sought a special event permit from the Town of Smithtown to use Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve, harkening back to the past. A committee of lifelong “Commackians” was formed to begin assembling a lineup of entertainment, food, and music.
“When you find out someone is from Commack, you simply gravitate to them, it has that strong sense of community.”
— James Manikas
“When you find out someone is from Commack, you simply gravitate to them, it has that strong sense of community,” Manikas said. “I want people to see what a great town it is.”
The event will feature live music from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. including performances by 3 Dudes from Commack, Full Circle Live, Killing Time and 70’s Flashback. Several local and chain restaurants have agreed to donate food for the event, according to Manikas, which will be available for tasting.
“You’re allowed a table there to promote any kind of business,” he said. “We’d prefer it to be a Commack business first.”
A listing of all the businesses that have pledged to be involved can be found on the event’s website at www.commackday.com. Tickets are $10 in advance through Eventbrite or $15 cash-only on the day of the event. A portion of the proceeds will be given to the Commack Fire Department.
“These people are here, protecting us and our community, who are strictly volunteering,” Manikas said. “I think the least we can do is give back to them.”