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Insider’s guide to Italian Festa 2018: Food to go, limited-edition brew, parking and hacks

UPDATED SEPT. 9: The Italian Fall Festa is offering some of its best foods to go again today, extending its carryout services due to the weather. 

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PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

If there’s one thing that makes me feel right at home, it’s the smell of homemade sauce and meatballs. Luckily for me, there is plenty to be had at Italian Festa, running through this weekend.

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I arrived at Bella Villa Hall for a Facebook Live (see below) and was spoiled with cannoli, meatballs and even a bocce ball lesson.

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While I was there, I learned quite a bit about the festival, and I want to share these things with you so you and your family can have as great of an experience as I did.

Hundreds of meatballs have been prepared for this year's Italian Festa, all of which are smothered in delicious homemade sauce. PHOTO: (Alex Perry) (Alex Perry)

WHERE TO PARK

Not only is admission to the event free, so is parking. Park at Reynolds and Reynolds (located at 1 Reynolds Way, Dayton) and hop on the free shuttle to the event at Bell Villa Hall. 

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WHAT YOU NEED

Bring your appetite, and cash. There are ATMs on site, but you can always save yourself the ATM fee by being prepared. I highly recommend bringing at least $40 so you can try all the food (most plates are around $6, all under $10) and beverages (you can purchase a whole bottle of wine for just $14!) your heart desires — and fit in a few games of bocce ball. 

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Event organizers enjoy a small break in excitement following the Fabulous Friday luncheon which served ziti and meatballs, salad, and meatball subs. PHOTO: (Alex Perry) (Alex Perry)

CATERING TO ALL

Event organizer John Fantauzzo explained to me a little about the Friends of Festa, an assistance program that helps everyone get a full plate, and to their seat quickly, safely and happily. Whether you’re trailing little ones behind you, or your grandma has a walker, no one need feel uncomfortable thanks to Friends of Festa. The complimentary service runs noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Fantauzzo also mentioned how the festival has become more accessible over the years with less carpet, streamlined dining lines and two portable toilet sites, among other facility updates. 

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AN EXCLUSIVE TASTE

During the Facebook Live interview, I learned about Warped Wing’s exclusive brew for the festa. It’s described as a “hint of lemon, but not too fruity — very refreshing.” Last year, the festa brew sold out early in the day Saturday. This year, they’ve doubled their order and are prepared for sales through Sunday (if it lasts, that is.)

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Fresh meatball subs were a delicious part of the Fabulous Friday luncheon hosted by Italian Festa at Bella Villa Hall. PHOTO: (Alex Perry) (Alex Perry)

KEEPING IT LOCAL

While a few items are ordered from bakeries, nearly all of the food at the festival is made by even organizers and club members. The bread is from a Dayton-area bakery, and the meats are provided by a company in Ohio too. Aside from imported Italian wines and beers, all items are made and sourced right here in our state. How cool is that?

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Bocce ball courts are available for rent during Italian Festa for $20 per hour. PHOTO: (Alex Perry) (Alex Perry)

PLAY BALL!

Whether you’re looking for the weekend game, or want to try your shot at bocce ball, there’s plenty of good sporting fun to be had. There will be 14 TV’s broadcasting football games over the weekend, as well as the opportunity to play on one of Ohio’s best bocce ball courts, available to rent for $20/hour. 

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ADDITIONAL ACTIVITES

On Sunday at 10 a.m., there’s a Meatball Madness 5K run. Not a runner? The free meatball sub given out to the runners may just change your mind. On Sunday at 3 p.m., there’s a spaghetti eating contest — if you’ve got an iron gut — you’ll be immersed in deliciousness. 

Want to go?

WHEN: Sept. 7-9. Friday 6 p.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday noon-11 p.m.; Sunday noon-8 p.m.

WHERE: Bella Villa Hall, 2625 County Line Road, Kettering

ADMISSION & PARKING: Free, shuttle available from at the nearby Reynolds & Reynolds parking lot

INFO: 937-258-3600 | italianfallfesta.comor facebook.com/ItalianFallFesta

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