SOUTHINGTON - Following a record-breaking opening Friday, The Italian American Festival rolled into Saturday, bringing out a variety of entertainment.
The festival opened with a “Dance City” performance by local youths. Later performances included an Olympic Tae Kwondo demonstration and music by the band “Tempo.” The wine contest, which received 35 entries, was also judged.
David Zoni, of Unico, one of the festival organizers, said the crowds Friday were “huge” and that he expected them to return Saturday evening.
“It was awesome last night - record-breaking,” he said. “The street was completely full, and the vendors all did well. I’m really pleased with the turnout we’ve had so far.”
Tony Cusano, who started the festival’s annual wine contest, said that while there were more entries in past years there was “more interest than ever this year.”
“It will probably be a lot bigger than last year,” he said. “We had a Facebook page this year, which got a lot of interest. Northeast produce, which sells winemaking equipment, had a booth this year and people were stopping by to ask about it.”
Sisters Josie and Marissa Cusano were volunteering at the festival with Sorelle D’Italia in America, one of the sponsors this year and in 2016. Previously, the club for women of Italian heritage had a booth at the event.
“It’s a great event,” said Josie Cusano. “There are a lot of people with Italian heritage in town, and we are proud to be Italian.”
Jose Perez, of Southington, came to the festival with his daughters Lucia, 6, and Colleen, 8, who were enjoying fried dough as they sat under a shaded tent.
“We come every year,” said Perez. “I like the atmosphere and food, and they love the carnival rides. I’m looking forward to eating a bit of everything.”
Linda Konowski and her neighbor Ann Anderson have also been coming to the festival for many years, and they are both big fans of the fried dough.
“That’s my number one thing to eat here, then I see if I have room for anything else,” said Konowski. “I also like to come here to see people I know and the different vendors. It is relaxing to walk around in a nice area.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.