Italian festival welcomes new host

Sorelle d'Italia in AmericaBy TAYLOR HARTZ

Teaming up with UNICO and the Sons of Italy, a local women’s club will serve as the third sponsor of this year’s Italian American Festival. Sorelle d’Italia in America, formed in 2010, is a Southington based non-profit for women of Italian heritage.

The club focuses on preserving and promoting Italian culture, while serving the Southington community. They are active in fundraising for local charities, including Relay for Life and Southington Community Services.

With more than 100 members who meet monthly at the Sons of Italy on Center Street, the members of Sorelle d’Italia range from age 16 to 90. The five founders of the organization were all born in Italy and hope to keep their native culture active in Southington.

Clementina Mennone, president of Sorelle d’Italia in America, said “The main reason for the club is to keep our traditions and heritage going.”

When they were asked to help sponsor the 12th annual Italian-American festival, Mennone said the membership was very happy to help keep the tradition going.

“We want to pass on what was passed on to us from our parents and grandparents,” she said. “We feel we have a lot to bring to the Italian community.”

An exciting new event this year will feature entertainment from two Italian musicians who will travel to Southington just for the festival. Mennone and a fellow member of the club have opened their doors to host the Italian singers during their stay in Southington.

Maria Diana and Amerino Solerno, of Naples, will spend the weekend entertaining the crowds from the main stage. Their travel from Southington to Italy was sponsored by Sorelle d’Italia, UNICO, and The Sons of Italy. Diana, a singer, and Solerno, an accordion player, perform at a family-owned restaurant La Conchiglia, in Naples.

The two will perform duets at the festival at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 31.

Mennone said the club is also excited to be involved in a new Italian Festival tradition—a meatball eating contest. The contest will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

To help their community, Sorelle d’Italia is involved in several events each year. They actively fundraise for the annual Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, that is held at Southington High School (SHS). They provide community service and donations to Southington Community Services, and award an annual scholarship to one female graduating from SHS. Each October, they also host an annual dinner for breast cancer awareness, to fundraise for the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute.

The club, open to women of Italian heritage over the age of 16-years-old, is always seeking new members.

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