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