This fall, Columbians and visitors have the opportunity to attend one of Columbia’s most exciting and entertaining events that has grown in popularity and attendance over the past five years – the annual Italian Festival & Bocce Tournament, hosted by Bella Italia 2808, Columbia’s local chapter of the Order Sons of Italy in America. The festival is Saturday, September 29, 2012, along Main St. in the heart of the city.
The one-day festival, which could be considered a one-day passport to Italy, was initiated in 2008 by members of the local Sons of Italy in America lodge as a means to uphold, celebrate, and share their proud Italian roots with the community. Members of the lodge who organize the festival are first and second generation families of the early Italian pioneers who settled in Columbia more than 90 years ago.
The festival’s emphasis on Italian history, heritage, and culture and the influence of Italians in America, enables festivalgoers to experience Italian culture through authentic traditional Italian food, Italian label wine and beer and other beverages, lively Italian music, Tarantella folk dancing, grape stomping, a fresh market, homemade Italian sweets and pastries, old world games, classical ballet, opera, a gondola for picture-taking, Trevi Fountain, Carnavale mask-making, and other Italian merchandise. Miscellaneous vendors will be onsite also.
The festival is open to the public with free admission and city parking facilities will be open. Live entertainment includes Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms, the show band from Columbus, Ohio that dazzles audiences all over the US with their Italian and swing music. Recognized as “the most dynamic Italian American show band coast to coast,” the group has a huge following. In addition, the hilarious Fettucini Brothers, with 20 years professional show business experience, will entertain festivalgoers with their two-man comedy/juggling act. The impressive Costra Romana – Roman Centurions return this year dressed in authentic Roman soldier attire and will roam throughout the day.
Bella Italia’s annual Bocce Tournament is held in conjunction with its festival. The tourney is organized with two-person teams competing and cash prizes are awarded to the top three winners. The tourney, which requires a fee to participate, is open to individuals and businesses. Bocce team sponsorships are available.
Bella Italia 2808 is a tax-exempt agency whose motto is “charity through giving.” The festival, held in partnership with the city and supported in part by sponsors, is the largest lodge fundraiser; and proceeds are used to provide monetary contributions to charities and worthy causes. Further, the lodge provides goods to local missions and the less fortunate and when called upon, provides in-kind services to schools, agencies, and other entities.