Oct. 27—The inaugural Maryland Italian Festival is coming to Bel Air next fall.
Organized by the Harford County-based organization the Society of Italian American Businessmen, the three-day festival will take place at the Harford County Equestrian Center over the weekend of Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, 2023.
"There's gonna be something for everybody," said Elio Scaccio, one of SIAB's founders and one of the festival's organizers.
The festival will coincide with SIAB's 10th anniversary, Harford County's 250th anniversary and the beginning of Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month, which takes place in October.
According to the festival website, marylanditalianfestival.com, there will be live music, carnival rides, a variety of Italian food vendors, a bocce tournament and more.
"It dwarfs anything else that we've done in the past for sure," Scaccio said.
Scaccio had been to other Italian festivals around the country before and saw the excitement that they brought to the local communities, and the draw they provided to people from neighboring states.
"We're looking at creating a lot of tourism for Harford County for that particular weekend," he said. "We're planning on this being a weekend destination."
Harford County Council President Patrick Vincenti, a SIAB member, sees the potential financial benefit the festival could bring.
"It's just another great, family-fun event that's coming into Harford County," Vincenti said.
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Matt Scales, executive director of Visit Harford, said he's excited for any type of state festival to come to Harford County.
"People love Italian food, Italian wine and Italian culture," Scales said. "Not everyone can get to Italy with the price tag of airfare and everything else. So why don't we bring a little bit of Italian heritage and culture here right here to Harford County."
Scaccio said that no matter a person's ethnicity or background, they're going to get "a flavor of the sights and sounds of Italy."
"We want to see people come away from this with the feeling of belonging," Scaccio said.
Tickets are not yet on sale. Proceeds from the event will go to charity, although charities have not yet been designated.
Scaccio estimates an attendance of between 10,000 to 15,000 over the three-day weekend, a number he would consider a "home run" for a first-year festival.
"There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to hit those marks," he said.
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