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  cover story - july 2014

It Feels Good to be Italian
Festa Italiana celebrates with music, food and fun

Festa Italiana 2014 brings a big taste of Italy to Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront July 18-20.

“It Feels Good to be Italian” is the theme of the celebration of Milwaukee’s Italian heritage, an annual showcase that brings top entertainers, chefs and more to the Summerfest grounds.

Exciting entertainment
This year’s headliner comes direct from Europe. Patrizio Buanne, known for his engaging and spectacular performances, is an international multi-platinum singing sensation who has played for sold-out theatres and arenas all over the world.

Called “the Italian pop crooner of our times,” Buanne has sold millions of records worldwide and has performed for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” the Pope, Royal families and a U.S. President. It’s the first visit to Milwaukee for the entertainer, who performs Saturday and Sunday.

Other acts include award-winning Las Vegas comedian and actor Stephen Sorrentino, accordionist and singer Dick Contino, three-part female harmony group Tre Bella and Chicago singer and restaurateur Tony Spavone. Also entertaining Festa audiences are Franco Corso, Natalie Pinto, The Vince Chiarelli Band and Moreno Fruzzetti.

Festa favorite The Bronx Wanderers return for more rousing performances. Also sure to fire up audiences is the world’s #1 tribute band to Bruce Springsteen – Bruce in the USA. Guaranteed to delight Festagoers is the song, dance and comedy revue Matt Macis & Hannah Timm Live! In Concert. Other must-sees are the Russo Brothers, who give Italian classics a modern kick, and Bella Cain, known for its high-energy, Top 40 country sound.

Food favorites
Always at the forefront of Festa is the food – arancini, toasted ravioli, calamari, eggplant sticks, sfincione, spiedini, sfingi, cannoli and more. Festa Italiana partners with local Italian restaurants to provide a variety of fresh dishes for festivalgoers to indulge in. New to the food lineup is Palermo’s Pizza. Glorioso’s Italian Market has been named the official Italian sausage provider of Festa 2014.

The popular Cucina Showcase returns to provide local chef and celebrity chef demonstrations daily.

Contests galore
Also staged in the Cucina is the popular Cannoli Eating Contest on Saturday and Kids’ Pizza Making Contest on Sunday. New this year is the Chef’s Choice Recipe Contest on Sunday. Dishes will be judged by a panel of local chefs and celebrity “foodies” in front of a live Cucina Showcase audience. The winner receives the first Golden Spoon Award.

Cultural and heritage features
Italian culture is a significant element of the festival. Mass is scheduled for Sunday, July 20, in the Marcus Amphitheater at 11 a.m. Presiding is the Very Reverend Timothy L. Kitzke, co-pastor of four parishes on Milwaukee's Eastside and chaplain of the Italian Community Center. In celebration of 25 years of priesthood, and 15 years on Milwaukee's Eastside, Father Kitzkel offers Holy Mass in thanksgiving for the gifts of faith and tradition. The Mass is followed by a procession of societies and patron saints, concluded with benediction on the festival grounds.

Other returning attractions include bocce ball, played daily with the annual tournament on Sunday; wine tastings; gondola rides; Italian Idol Karaoke Contest; Pinocchio Parade and Copa Festa Italiana Futsal tournament. Not-to-be-missed are fabulous Bartolotta fireworks, presented every evening at 10:30 p.m.

Admission specials and ticket prices
Purchase advance tickets for only $10 online through July 17, 2014, at

New this year for Friday, July 18, is a BOGO – Buy One Get One Free. Buy one full price entry ticket at the gate for $13 and receive one entry ticket for free. Friday, July 18, also is a “Day of Service” honoring firefighters, law enforcement, teachers and military. This Friday-only offer includes admission for the service member (with an active military or employee ID) and one guest.

Regular admission tickets are $13 at the gate for adults. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.

Visit for additional ticket specials and follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter @FestaMKE. The festival’s mobile app, FestaMKE, is available for ANDROID and iPhone.




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