CUYAHOGA FALLS – Whether Italian or not, everyone can enjoy Festa Italiana July 19, 20, and 21 in the city’s downtown.
Hours are 5 to 11:15 p.m. on Friday, July 19; 11 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 20; and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 21.
The 11th annual Festa Italiana offers food, music and entertainment for families and people of all ages, said Festival Chairman Rick Sabo.
The renovations on Front Street have transformed the festival into more of a street fair, Sabo said.
"It has a different feel to it, and it's a good thing," Sabo said. "There's more room for walking. Before, you wound your way along Front Street and this is a straight shot."
Front Street will be closed for the event from Broad Boulevard to Portage Trail and from Portage Trail to Oakwood Drive from 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, to Monday, July 22, at 1 a.m., according to Kelli Crawford-Smith, the city’s director of Neighborhood Excellence, Communications and Community Outreach Department.
There will be plenty of food and drinks, along with entertainment available at three areas — the amphitheater, fountain and midway.
The midway will have a tent where Mike Trecaso, a strolling accordion player, and the Tuscan Trio will entertain those passing by.
"People like that," Sabo said. "As you walk along, [you] can stop and listen to them."
Main acts include Emanuela and Claudia Sala from Italy; Juke Box Heroes with 1980s music and E5C4P3, a Journey tribute band.
"We have a mix of rock and Italian music," Sabo said. "You need that to draw everyone in."
About 15 chair people work on committees to make the festival a reality with many of them helping since the first festival, he said.
"They're good at what they do," Sabo said. "That makes my job easier."
Other favorites include The Michael Weber Show, Lady Antoinetta Show, Time Machine, I Campagnoli, Silver Creek Duo, Wayne Tomsic, Lake Affect, Western Reserve Community Band, Julie Crookston-Gulenko, Tuscan Trio, Off The Charts, 722 Singers, Gli Italiani and Claire Juliet.
Two scholarship winners will be announced Friday, July 19, at 7 p.m.
The Morra Tournament is on Saturday, July 20, at 7 p.m.
"Morra is Italian rock, paper, scissors," Sabo said. "The first time I saw Morra, I thought a fight was going on."
Two players throw out a single hand, each showing zero to five fingers and call out their guess at what the sum of all fingers shown will be in Morra. If one player guesses the sum, that player earns one point. The first player to reach three points wins the game.
"You're yelling out the numbers and it's loud, fast moving and it draws people in," Sabo said.
Fireworks are Saturday, July 20, at 10 p.m.
Sunday, July 21, is family day and begins with Catholic Mass at 10:30 a.m. Art Sparks teaches the pizza dance to kids from 1 to 1:15, grape stomping at 1:45 p.m. and breaking the candy-filled pignatta at 6 p.m.
Sunday also emphasizes Italian music at the amphitheater with a line-up of 12-year-old Claire Juliet at 5 p.m. followed by Julie Crookston-Gulenko, the Sala sisters and the three sopranos in the Grand Finale Ensemble at 7:45 p.m.
Festa Italiana gives back to different charities each year, including Cuyahoga Falls Alumni Band, Relay for Life, Cuyahoga Valley Art Center, Art Sparks, Cuyahoga Falls Lion Club and Boy Scout Troops.
The festival schedule can be found at www.festaitalianacf.com/
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434.