Italian Festival hits all the high notes 

There’s a famous Italian adage that goes: La vita è una combinazione di pasta e magia. 

Life is a combination of pasta and magic. 

A simple and beautiful saying and succinct.

Now, hold that thought for a moment. Add great music, large groups and family and friends gathering in great weather on a relaxed July Sunday on the Sault riverfront, and the picture for Giovanni’s 2024 Italian Festival second festival is complete.

The two-day festival – it expanded by a day this year, more on that in a bit – wrapped up Sunday night.

An estimated 10,000 Sault and area residents converged on the event Saturday and Sunday, where they found plenty of great food, a variety of good music, plenty of activity and assorted merch for sale.

Tony Cavaliere says the event should be about more than numbers. Cavaliere says it’s imperative organizers look beyond them and continue to look at ways to make a good thing better.

“There’s so many things (we look at),” says Cavaliere. “We have a checklist that we go through,” he adds, noting organizers look at inside the numbers for out-of-town visitors.

One of the key changes arising out of evaluations of 2023’s event was a need to expand.

“We had our kitchen all set up for Sunday morning,” says Cavaliere. “It made our lives so much easier.”

The festival owes much to a team of 100 volunteers, Cavaliere says, who work in morning and night shifts. He says adding a Day Two to the festival reduced stress on his entire team.

“”We’ve doubled the amount of people that are working on site, compared to last year. You know what? We can’t do it without them.”

One lady was positively beaming about the festival at mid-afternoon.

“It’s very well organized,” she told First Local. “I was here last year and it was very well-organized as well. This is my culture and I come out to support it.

Relatives…Friends. It’s a big gathering of all kinds of people, really. The music, the food, our traditions…it’s family!”

Carmen Spada of Toronto, armed with his accordion and a great set of pipes filled the Bondar tent with fun and rich Italian tones, beginning at 2 p.m.

The music lineup was cited by attendees who spoke to First Local as a highlight.

Cavaliere says much thought is poured into just who to bring in for the festival.

“We work with a manager from New York who manages a ton of Italian talent. We had some other names that we originally had that actually got swapped this year. We’re always looking to bring in big acts. This year we had Antonio Mezzancella, Angelo Venuto from New York, The Italian Disco Mafia from Italy…some pretty big talent, some great voices.

We try to be on both spectrums, not just Italian. It’s for everybody. There’s English, Italian, Spanish…there’s everything.”

RPM, Larry Tschekalin, an ever-popular Elvis impersonator and Windsor group Fantasia rounded out Sunday’s performers.

Check out the gallery for photos from Sunday’s festivities.

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