6 reasons you shouldn’t miss the Italian Fall Festa 

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 on Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m. 

>> Italian Fall Festa extends grab and go services throughout weekend

>> IS YOUR FAVORITE EVENT STILL ON? The impact the weather is having on events and concerts this weekend

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Most read

  1. 1 Why was Jennifer Garner at Kroger in Cincinnati? | Baby food
  2. 2 Best corn mazes near Dayton, Ohio | Fall fun in Dayton, Ohio
  3. 3 What to do in Yellow Springs, Ohio | Dayton, OH

The phrase “pace yourself” best sums up Brian Andzik’s advice to folks hoping to get the best out of Italian Fall Festa.

“Plan on staying for a while and not doing too much at once. Spread it out,” the festival’s longtime chairman said. “Come at lunchtime and stay and have dinner. Stay all day.”

There will be plenty to keep you busy and your belly full at the 41st annual Sons of Italy John Pirelli Lodge food extravaganza this weekend at Bella Villa Hall.

>> Here’s exactly how to hit 7 of this weekend’s biggest festivals

WEATHER

Don’t forget to check the weather to plan your perfect weekend. 

>> INTERACTIVE WEATHER RADAR: Get the latest Dayton-area Doppler 7 Radar

>> Download FREE local weather app

 

THE CROWD

As many as 50,000 people are expected to eat their way through the festival, which is one of the three big annual fall festivals the weekend after Labor Day.

>> Fall festivals we just cannot wait for

Where you spotted at Sons of Italy's Italian Fall Festa 2015 at Bella Villa Hall. Sunday was game day and many festival-goers wore their Browns and Bengal gear while playing bocce, visiting neighbors, dancing and chowing down on cannoli, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, Italian beef sandwiches and other grub.  (Staff photo by (Amelia Robinson)) (Amelia Robinson)

1.) Eat with the family

Andzik says Italian immigrants began coming to the Dayton area in late 1800s with the largest populations arriving in the 1920s and 1930s. They held manufacturing jobs at places like Reynolds and Reynolds and Frigidare.

The earliest immigrants settled on First, Second, Fourth and Fifth streets in Dayton. They attended St. Joseph Catholic Church with immigrants from Ireland, and Holy Trinity Church alongside German immigrants, according to the 579-member lodge’s website.

Italian Fall Festa is about sharing the best parts about being Italian and Sicilian with all of the Miami Valley, Andzik said.

“It is a big family atmosphere, and that is something that is deeply ingrained in the (Italian) community,” he said. “A lot of being Italian is about family. What we try to do at the festa is extend that feeling to the whole community and have everyone come out and eat with us.”

>> FESTIVAL MADNESS: More food, beer and cheers than you thought possible in September

2.) Delizioso grub

Andzik is not kidding when he says you can eat all day long at the Fall Festa. 

The food is made and served by an army of 1,100 Sons of Italy volunteers. A special dinner will be served each day for about $8: baked pasta Friday; stuffed shells Saturday and spaghetti and meatballs Sunday.

Most sandwiches are about $6. They include sausage, onions, peppers, meatballs, muffaletta and Italian beef.

There will be an assortment of sweets: Italian cakes and cookies, gelato, spumoni, cannoli, soft drinks, sfingi, etc.

The festival also has a deli booth and will serve favorites like pizza, calzones and Italian breads.

“We make all of that food ourselves,” he said. “We don’t have outside vendors.”

(Tom Gilliam Photography for Dayton.com)

3.) Get it to go

Love the food, but can’t stay? The Festa will accept to-go lunch orders on Fabulous Friday between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., however, they cannot accept credit cards. So you’ll want to have some cash handy when you pick up your food. UPDATE: Carryout services extended through weekend due to weather.

The spaghetti and meatballs dinner will be featured Sunday at the annual Italian Fall Festa. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO (Contributing Writer)

4.) Sunday Funday

The Meatball Madness 5K run starts at 10 a.m. Sunday and a spaghetti eating contest gets going at 3 p.m.

Run registration is $25 and includes a T-shirt, while supplies last. About 400 runners are expected.

The spaghetti eating contest has three age divisions: 11 and younger, 12 to 17 and 18 and older.

Andzik said the younger kids race to finish a plate, the older kids race to finish several plates and the adult group sees who can eat the most spaghetti in 3 minutes.

If you’d prefer to go at a slower pace at a great price, Sunday also features a $5 spaghetti dinner.

Where you spotted at Sons of Italy's Italian Fall Festa 2015 at Bella Villa Hall. Sunday was game day and many festival-goers wore their Browns and Bengal gear while playing bocce, visiting neighbors, dancing and chowing down on cannoli, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, Italian beef sandwiches and other grub.  (Staff photo by (Amelia Robinson)) (Amelia Robinson)

5.) Bocce ball + watching the games

The Bella Villa Hall has some of the best bocce courts in Ohio. You can use a court for a few dollars.

As usual, NFL and Ohio State fans can catch the gridiron action on the festival’s giant screen TVs. Andzik said the Festa was the first such event of its kind in the area to do so.

6.) A whole lot more

There will be children’s games and musical performances throughout the weekend. Sunday’s headline act is New York-based tenor Aaron Caruso from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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.com or facebook.com/ItalianFallFesta

More from Dayton