By: Joe Ventimiglia, Festa Italiana chairman
A celebration of Italian culture with performances, Italian food, wine and fun for all!
Macomb County is home to rich culture and heritage from many different nationalities. Celebrating Macomb’s Italian Heritage, the Italian American Cultural Society (IACS) based here in Macomb County has partnered with Luna Hillside Productions to bring the return of Festa Italiana to Freedom Hill County Park Friday, July 19- Sunday July 21.
The Italian Government declared 2013 as the “Year of Italian Culture in the U.S.” and Festa Italiana will commemorate and celebrate Italy by showcasing the best in Italian entertainment, food, drink and heritage. The event is free to the public and a great way to experience cultural heritage in Macomb.
Featured performances at the festival will include singer/songwriter Justin Guarini, who was American Idol’s debut season’s first runner-up in 2002. Guarini performs Friday, July 19at 9:00 pm and Saturday, July 20 at 7:00 pm. Lena Prima, daughter of musical legend Louis Prima, will perform an Italian tribute review to her father on Saturday, July 20 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, July 21 at 7:00 pm.
Also performing at the festival will be local and regional acts such as Aaron Caruso, Mark Randisi, The Simone Vitale Band, Burt Holiday of the Gaylords and Julian Pavone, the Guinness World Record-holder for youngest professional drummer.
Festival goers will “mangia bene” (eat well) with dozens of food selections available for purchase. Some of the authentic Italian offerings will include:
- Randazzo Fresh Market – Grilled lamb chops, shrimp, thin crust pizza and fresh fruit
- Picano’s Restaurant – Pasta and tripe
- IACS Banquet Center – Steak sandwiches
- Il Fornaio Bakery – Sfingi (Sicilian donut/fritters) and cannoli
- Andiamo Italia – Arancini, meatballs and spiedini
- Nino Salvaggio Market – Italian sausage and cannoli
- Vito’s Bakery – Sfinciuni (Sicilian pizza)
And to accompany all the great food will be imported wines and beer from Italy as well. In addition, there will be traditional carnival fair food.
Other Festa Italiana highlights:
- Meatball Contest – Amateurs and restaurants will put their meatballs to the test in the 10th annual competition judged by Macomb County judges;
- Beautiful Baby Contest – A festival favorite for the past 10 years, top prizes for the cutest kids (categories ranging from 6 months to 5 years old) include gift cards and a birthday cake from Il Fornaio Bakery (Shelby Twp) or Vito’s Bakery (Clinton Twp);
- Cannoli Eating Contest – Cannoli competitors will see who can eat the most in 6 minutes and try to beat the current record of 12 cannoli.
- Craft Exhibit of more than 30 local crafters;
- Holy sacrifice of the mass celebrated Sunday, July 21 at 11:00 am
- Kid Zone with fun activities for the family;
- Ferrari display courtesy of Cauley Ferrari of West Bloomfield;
- Chance to win a Fiat lease courtesy of Fiat of Lakeside.
For more than 45 years, IACS has sponsored and produced Festa Italiana which raises money for the nonprofit cultural organization. The festival is a part of the history of Italian-Americans in Michigan and we are very excited to bring it back this year to Freedom Hill. Freedom Hill is located at 14900 Metropolitan Parkway in Sterling Heights. For a complete schedule of entertainment and activities, visit www.iacsonline.com or call (586) 228-3030.
About the Author: Joe Ventimiglia currently holds the position of Vice-President on the IACS Board of Directors. He believes in the Italian American Cultural Center’s potential to be the best as it can be by promoting the Italian heritage through cultural, social, and sports programs. Since 2008, Joe has co-chaired and chaired the Italian festivals at Freedom Hill with Tom Bommarito. Ventimiglia is the president of the Italian American Chamber of Commerce of Michigan and a member of the Italian American Delegates.