Crowds swarm to weekend festivals, breaking food and attendance records

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Last year, a weekend of rain washed out some of Dayton’s most beloved community festivals. This year organizers say they were back and stronger than ever.

The Italian Fall Festa broke attendance records last weekend, according to organizers. More than 40,000 people attended the 42nd annual event at John Pirelli Lodge in Kettering between Friday and Sunday.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Brian Andzik, a Fall Festa organizer, said the event — a weekend of pastries, boche and pasta dinners — is a tradition for generations of families in the Miami Valley. The bad weather last year created “a pent-up desire for the festival and the food,” this year, he said.

Proceeds from the event are used to maintain the grounds and facility and benefit numerous charities and scholarships.

The 61st annual Greek Festival at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Dayton also broke records this year, according to Deb Pulos, a public relations chair for the event.

Last year the festival was a “complete wash-out,” and organizers had to offer free admission and sold bulk pastries to take home and bake. This year, most pastries sold out by noon and the entrées were gone by early afternoon Sunday.

More than 10,000 pieces of baklava, 1,920 pieces of moussaka and 2,640 slices of pastitsio were sold. “Usually we sell between 10,000 and 15,000 gyros,” Pulos said. “I’d say we sold close to 20,000 this year.”

Credit: Sarah Franks

Credit: Sarah Franks

Organizers attribute the crowd size partly to good weather but Pulos said after the Memorial Day tornadoes and the Oregon District mass shooting, many people said they needed relief.

“People want to be with other people and enjoy themselves,” she said.

Last year, the Beavercreek Popcorn Festival debuted a new beer garden and sold seven beers before bad weather closed the festival down just a few hours after it opened.

Ben Guthrie, president of the festival committee, said they don’t officially take attendance but judging from crowd size and feedback from vendors, this year’s event had “great attendance.”

Guthrie attributes the popularity this year to dry weather and fun festival events including a car show, children’s area and a wide selection of entertainment on the main stage.

About the Author