Italian food, friends and fun at festival

Jessica Lentine

Italian food was plentiful at the 58th Italian-American Festival held last weekend at the Cuyahoga Falls River Square.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Scents of pizza and spaghetti floated through the air as people of all ages lined the sidewalks of the Cuyahoga Falls River Square this past weekend.

The abundance of music, dancing, food and friends drew crowds from all over to the 58th Annual Italian-American Festival, sponsored by the Council of the Italian-American Societies of Summit County.

Many people showed their Italian spirit by wearing red, green and white clothes and carrying Italian flags. The sidewalks were filled with people standing in large groups, kissing and hugging and catching up with friends.

Several bands took the stage Friday evening, playing Italian music that kept people dancing into the night.

On Saturday, the festival featured the magic of Tim Angeloni and the music of the Italian Marching Band of Cleveland along with Italian classes and a homemade wine competition and tasting.

The festival continued the next morning with a Catholic mass, followed by a spaghetti dinner and more activities throughout the day.

Mike Tricaso of Akron, who has played accordion at the festival for over 50 years, said he loves many things about the festival, but the most important part is the people.

“I’ve seen a lot of people that I wouldn’t usually get to run into,” Tricaso said. Groups of friends and fans surrounded Tricaso to visit and hear him play.

Temperatures were high all weekend, and almost everyone cooled off with a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade. There was an endless amount of primarily Italian cuisine, but those with a sweet tooth were not left hungry. Desserts, such as cotton candy, brownies and homemade cookies, could be found everywhere.

“I love the food,” Vicki McVan of Cuyahoga Falls said.

“I love the closeness,” said Vicki’s husband, Andy McVan. The family, including 3-year-old twins Leala and Meah, has been coming to the festival for several years.

A fun and games area provided entertainment for children and adults. Nearly every child held a balloon, stuffed animal or toy of some sort.

The council starts planning the event in January, said Mary Lofreso, one of the hundreds of members of the Italian-American Council. She estimated that more than 10,000 people visit the festival each of its three days.

Contact general assignment reporter Jessica Lentine at [email protected].