SOUTHINGTON - The ever-popular Italian Festival returns for the 13th year to Center Street July 28 through 30, bringing a variety of food and music and celebrating Italian heritage.
The festival, organized by Unico, The Sons of Italy and Sorelle D’italia, brings thousands of people to downtown Southington every year.
Opening ceremonies will begin from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday. The festival will continue from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Food tents and a variety of vendors will line the sides of Center Street and there will also be a stage featuring live music and a children’s carnival in Factory Square.
There will be a wine tasting contest Saturday afternoon and a traditional Italian Mass at 10 a.m. Sunday followed by a procession. There will also be several raffles.
David Zoni, one of the festival’s co-chairs representing Unico, said the live entertainment will be different this year. Whereas in previous years there were lulls between performances, Zoni said numerous bands will take the stage.
“On Friday we will have Sound Alternative and on Saturday afternoon we will have By Request from Waterbury,” said Zoni. “On Saturday night we will have Tempo from New York City and on Sunday afternoon the Sam Vinci Orchestra will play. The Sam Vinci Orchestra plays a lot during our music on the green.”
“Our main objective is to celebrate Italian heritage and culture,” said Councilor Dawn Miceli, another Unico member. “Our Italian Mass and processional is about getting the community involved. When we march through the street there will be an Italian band playing behind us. It harkens back to a simplistic time, a neighborly time, a time of good will. Even if you are not of Italian descent, it is a fun way to pay tribute to traditions.”
According to the most recent census data, 28.9 percent of people living in Southington are of Italian heritage, making it the most common ancestry.
Food at the Italian Festival will include pizza, fried dough, sausage and pepper grinders, Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella as well as pasta fagioli and sufrite. Miceli said no two food booths will sell the same product.
Zoni said some participating restaurants will include Nonna Artemisia’s Pizzeria, Paul Gregory’s and Ideal Tavern. Families will be able to sit in the shade under tents or in the sun surrounding the stage.
Frontier Communications will be a new sponsor this year. Stop & Shop has sponsored the festival each year and gives out Italian bread. Quantum Biopower will sponsor the Italian Festival for three years and Miceli noted that Richard Chevrolet is another longtime sponsor.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.