San Gennaro festival kicks off with cannoli contest

September 15, 2011 1:09:46 PM PDT
San Gennaro may be the beloved namesake of the annual feast in Manhattan's Little Italy, but it's the world-famous cannoli eating contest that is among its most venerated highlights.

The 85th annual Feast of San Gennaro began Thursday. In the afternoon, professional eaters took the stage in a competition to see who can scarf down the most cannolis - traditional Italian deep fried-pastry tubes filled with sweet cheese.

The tournament is sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eaters.

There are also pizza and pasta eating competitions during the 11-day celebration. Another highlight is a religious procession, when a statue of San Gennaro will be carried through the streets.

San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, Italy.