Festa Italiana Minnesota coming to Shoreview

Festa Itialiana Minnesota, a festival that celebrates Italian heritage, will be held at Island Lake Park in Shoreview the weekend of Aug. 1-3.

Now in its third year, the Festa, according to board president John Andreozzi, features “food, entertainment and the other thing that we pride ourselves on, that distinguishes us from other festivals—the history and culture.”

Having drawn 20,000 people in 2011 and 25,000 people in 2012, its first two years, Andreozzi said the committee hopes to top those numbers, with the Festa being held over three days, for the first time.

“We’re hoping for 30,000. If all goes well, we can get that,” he said. “We know a lot of people in the Italian community and others are looking forward to it.”

Food vendors—with authentic eats like pasta, meat dishes, pizza, gelato and cannoli—will include Dari-Ette Drive-In, Little Venetian, Nonna Rosa’s Ristorante, Grand Ole Creamery and Grand Pizza.

“People really like Italian food, so we’ll have a nice selection of Italian food, and wine and we’ll have beer,” Andreozzi said.

For entertainment, Russ Loniello, who does a Dean Martin routine, will be performing, along with Nancy Sanchelli-Guertin, who according to Andreozzi, is “well known and locally appreciated.” Other performers will include the I Cantatori men’s chorus, Italian dancers, strolling musicians and jugglers.

Other attractions will include bocce tournaments for kids and adults, Italian cars and Ducati motorcycles, a spaghetti eating contest and gondola rides on Island Lake.

The Festa will also feature tents on Italian history and culture, with census data on display regarding historical Italian immigrant populations in places like Northeast Minneapolis, St. Paul and Hibbing.

“People flock to these things,” Andreozzi said.

Shoreview Mayor Sandy Martin will be at the Festa’s official opening at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1, for a ribbon cutting, and there will be a Roman Catholic Mass and procession of the saints on Saturday, Aug. 2, at 4:30 p.m.

The Festa will run 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Aug 1, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3. Parking and admission are free.

Said Andreozzi, “You don’t have to be Italian to come.”

— Mike Munzenrider


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