After a Successful Premiere in 2011, Festa Italiana to Host a Larger Event (with more great Italian food) This Year – Friday, Sept. 21 and Saturday, Sept. 22
After a very successful inaugural year, the Festa Italiana committee is in the final planning stages for a return to Harriet Island in celebration of Minnesota’s rich Italian heritage. The two-day festival will take place September 21 and 22 and is free to the public.
Last year’s attendance surpassed 20,000 to the delight of the hard-working committee members. Year two will expand the attractions including more live music with a third stage added this year, more great Italian food, a larger cultural exhibit and more Italian merchandise vendors. With displays filling Harriet Island’s Pavilion, young and old alike can learn about the Italians who settled in the Twin Cities and the surrounding region and established the rich Italian culture in the area.
Food from an all-star cast of Twin Cities Italian restaurants will again be a major draw. Restaurants include Buon Giorno, Caffe Biaggo, Cossetta’s, D’Amico & Sons, Dari-ette Drive-In, DeGidio’s, Duke's, Mancini’s Char House, Pazzaluna and UNICO. Add some fine wines, cold beer and soft drinks and you have an unbeatable outdoor dining experience. Menus from each of the participating restaurants will be released next week.
Festa Italiana 2012 will showcase entertainment on three stages to delight almost any musical taste. Organ grinders will be located throughout the festival grounds playing their unique and engaging music. Stroll along the Via dell'Amore (the Street of Love) -- a beautiful Italian-inspired walk overlooking the spectacular Mississippi River and enjoy music and other entertainment from the new casual stage set up along the walk.
Gondola Romantica of Stillwater returns with gondola rides on the Mississippi River for a minimal fee. The beautiful boat was the setting for at least one marriage proposal at last years’ festival. Wheels of Italy is back with some of the classiest rides on two and four wheels. Look for classic nameplates such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Ducati. Their impressive display of exotic Italian vehicles will be held on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wheels of Italy will also conduct a police escorted “Tour the Town” charity motorbike ride Saturday, September 22 at 10 a.m..
Italian dancers will perform all in traditional dress throughout the weekend and welcome everyone to join in. Bocce ball, the popular Italian backyard game, is back by popular demand with a number of courts. The St. Paul Yacht Club, celebrating their 100th anniversary on Harriet Island, will display many of their antique and classic wooden hulled boats on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. followed by a flotilla on the Mississippi at dusk (around 6 p.m.) to celebrate their centennial anniversary (more information to be announced later this week)
An important event last year -- a traditional Patron Saint Festival -- will take place again in 2012, beginning with the celebration of a Catholic Mass at 4:30 p.m. on Saturdayfollowed by a recessional through the Festa Italiana grounds. More than 1100 participated in the mass last year and organizers are planning to accommodate a larger participation this year.
Festa Italiana is a free family friendly event that is handicapped accessible and open to everyone. Hours of the festival on Saint Paul’s beautiful Harriet Island: Friday, September 21 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, September 22 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
More information at www.festaitalianamn.com.