Preparations underway for this summer’s Italian Fest

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

It’s time to mark the calendars for Southington’s summer classic. The 13th annual Italian-American Festival, sponsored by the Sons of Italy, Sorelle D’ Italia in America and Southington UNICO, is scheduled for July 28 to 30 on the lower portion of Center Street.

Since its launch, the festival is held each summer to promote and support Italian heritage and culture in the Southington community. A planning committee is led by a representative from each of the three coordinating organizations and begins meeting in January to prepare for the July event.

This year, the committee is led by Dave Zoni of UNICO, Tony Cusano of Sons of Italy, and Maria Gomes of Sorelle D’Italia. Gomes said that this is her first year as a festival organizer and only the second year that Sorelle D’ Italia is a sponsor. The organization is for native-born Italians or those of Italian descent and raises money to benefit local students and groups.

“Our primary goal is giving something back to our community while simultaneously attempting to preserve many of our wonderful and uniquely Italian traditions,” Gomes said.

The festival planners are still seeking both food and non-food sponsors and vendors for the event. Major sponsors are offered a tent during the festival to promote their business or organization.

During the annual cultural event, hundreds of people flock to the downtown area for authentic food and entertainment, along with a parade and Sunday mass.

“The festival allows me to celebrate and re-connect with my ancestral roots and further serves to reinforce many ideals that best defines who and what we are, as melting-pot members, within a much greater society,” said Gomes. “But, during this wonderful festival, ‘We are all Italian.’”

The major entertainers are lined up for Friday and Saturday. Committee leaders are also adding extra entertainment to the festival this year. Zoni said in between the scheduled concerts and performances, he would like to have other musical talents on stage.

Aside from the many food vendors, carnival rides and games will be available. Those who are 21 and older can look forward to the homemade wine contest on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Each year, two local organizations are chosen as beneficiaries from funds raised throughout the weekend. The committee announced that all proceeds from beverages sold during the 2017 festival will benefit the United Way of Southington and Southington Youth Services.

The festival will start on Friday, July 28 and will be open from 5 to 11 p.m. It continues on Saturday, July 29 from 12 to 11 p.m. On Sunday, July 30, the morning will start with an outdoor Italian mass at 10 a.m. on Center Street, followed by a procession. The festival ends at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information or to become a vendor, contact Dave Zoni at (860) 384-9103 or Tony Cusano at (860) 681-3451.

Comments? Email JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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