Cuyahoga Falls -- A celebration of Italian heritage and culture returns to downtown.
The sixth annual Festa Italiana will begin July 18 and have activities continue through July 19 and 20 at Falls River Square.
Festivities will take place July 18 from 5 to 11:15 p.m., July 19 from 8 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. and July 20 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Activities will be scattered throughout the four main stages and locations at Falls River Square: the Amphitheater Stage, Fountain Stage, Midway and Clock Tower. There is no charge for admission or parking.
"The performers and vendors all do a wonderful job," said Rick Sabo, chairman of the event. "There's more than just fair food; there's the authentic Italian cuisine, music and games."
In his first year as chairman, Sabo said he and the volunteers want to make the festival even better each year, and build upon its success.
"The festival has always been very family oriented," he said. "It's always like a big reunion; you walk 20 feet, stop and talk to someone, walk a little more, then stop and talk again. That's what makes it so neat and so special."
Among the many activities are a 5K run and walk, and one mile run, new to this year's schedule. The 5K will take place on July 19 at 8 a.m. at the amphitheater stage. Tickets are being sold on www.active.com, $25 for the 5K run/walk and $15 for the one mile run.
Zumbathon and grape stomping activities will also be available, and new to this year's festival, a dance camp for children, where they will learn Italian dance.
Sara Leedham, deputy director of development for the city of Cuyahoga Falls, said she is particularly looking forward to the 5K run and Zumbathon, as well as the different activities available to any age group.
"[The 5K run and Zumbathon] are great ways to burn off some extra calories before sampling all of the wonderful food," Leedham said. "People are also getting really excited about the Bocce and Morra tournaments, as well as pignatta for the kids."
There will be a wide variety of entertainment for the festival. Pino Gioia, from Italy, will be performing, as well as The Rebels, Gli Italiani and Vince Ruby Trio and Western Reserve Orchestra among other performers. This year's special guest will be Fabio, an international Italian singer.
Many of last year's favorite vendors will also be returning in 2014. Corbo Concessions, Lobos Pasta, DiRusso and Late Night Slice will be returning this year, offering both American and Italian cuisine to guests.
Heritage Day will be celebrated July 16
Heritage Day will also be celebrated on July 16 at the Italian Center, 134 E. Tallmadge Ave., in Akron. The presentation will begin at 6 p.m. and will be catered by Guido's Restaurant of Ravenna.
Heritage Day is an opportunity to honor important figures in society, said Sabo. Charitable donations are given to many organizations in the community, including Boy Scouts of America, Cure Search, Italian Gardens and the Sharon Rescue Squad. In past years they have donated nearly $15,000.
Three scholarships for $1,000 each will be awarded to three students. This year's recipients are Angelica Scianna of Tallmadge High School, Andrew Markowski of Archbishop Hoban High School and Adam Blatt of Tallmadge High School.
The banquet and presentation will also honor two World War II veterans, Michael Louis Codiano of Massillon, and Randall A. Weitzell of Cuyahoga Falls. Mary Josephine Parri will be the guest speaker for their honors, giving an introduction and history on their military careers.
Tickets for the event are sold at the door for $25 per person. Reservations can also be made by calling Giovanni Catalano at 330-606-4677.
Two large sponsors for Festa Italiana are the Cuyahoga Falls Italian Center and I.A.Y.A. Club, in addition to commercial sponsors like Western Reserve Hospital, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Fred Martin Fiat and DeVitis Italian Deli & Market.
For more information on visit www.festaitalianacf.com.