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Even people without an ounce of Italian blood in their bodies can feel like they’ve just stepped off the boat from Milan on Sunday, June 26, when Club Italia in Niagara Falls hosts its Festa Italia Celebration.
The day-long event is a celebration of all things Italian, the country famous for its rich culture, fashion, exotic sports cars and of course mouth-watering food.
It’s the first time the popular summer event has been held as a full in-person gathering since 2019, with the previous two years disrupted by the pandemic.
Running from noon to 7 p.m., the event will feature local musical artists, a Calabria musical presentation from Italy, Italian cultural food favourites, children’s games and activities, and a tomato-stomping contest.
Rita Fragnito, chair of Festa Italia, said Club Italia has hosted summer events for more than 30 years. She said members are excited to host the event since the club became a member of the Niagara Folk Arts Festival several years ago.
Fragnito said everyone is welcome at the event, regardless of their ethnic background.
“We want the whole community to come out and experience our Italian culture,” she said. “The more the merrier. To be able to get people together again, it’s going to be great to have people come out and showcase our Italian heritage.”
The food pavilion at Club Italia, located at 2525 Montrose Rd., opens at noon. People will be able to purchase gnocchi and meatballs, porchetta on a bun, pizza by the slice, pizza trays and ice cream.
“It will be a full day of entertainment,” said Fragnito.
Jeannie Benicci will demonstrate Italian folk dance at 1:30 p.m., followed at 2 p.m. by the Avenue Inn Band, Italian folk singers from Calabria at 3 p.m., the Sara e Giacomo Trio at 5 p.m., and Razorbacks at 6 p.m.
At 1 p.m., city councillor Victor Pietrangelo and 105.1 FM’s Rob White will compete with a Club Italia representative in the tomato crushing competition. “They’ll compete for bragging rights and a trophy in the shape of a boot,” said Fragnito.
Throughout the day, there will be children’s entertainment including face painting, Italian arts and crafts and games.
Fragnito, who was born in Italy, arrived in Canada when her parents moved to Montreal but eventually joined countless other people of Italian heritage who called Niagara Falls home.
“My parents came to Niagara Falls and loved it, and we ended up moving to Niagara Falls,” she said.
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