ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A Rockford festival that has been around for over four decades wrapped up for the weekend.
“Festa Italiana” is a yearly event that honors Italian-American heritage and culture. Lovers of all things Italian went out to Boylan High School over the weekend to enjoy rides, food, performances and live music all to celebrate Italian culture.
The festival site was empty on Sunday, however, as crews packed up without an official end to the festival.
“I just want to thank the community, all of Rockford and the surrounding areas, for still coming out after 43 years and continuing to support us,” said Michael Maffioli, executive board member of the Greater Rockford Italian American Association, GRIAA.
“Festa Italiana” brings Rockford’s Italian community together for one weekend a year.
“About 44 years ago, it was created by two men, Whitey Marinelli and Corky Corirossi, with the intention to show the community our heritage and our culture, and it’s blossomed since then as a fundraiser for GRIAA,” Maffioli said.
Maffioli said that the event brings in a lot of money for GRIAA’s scholarship fund for Italian youth.
“Friday and Saturday were great.,” he said. “They put up some really good numbers for us, we had a lot of great attendance and people were out still spending money.”
Sunday rained on their parade, literally. Wet conditions made it hard to open up on the last day of the festival.
“It’s one of those decisions that you want to wait and wait and wait, to see if it’ll slow up, if the rain will go away, if the weather goes away,” Maffioli said. “But we got such bad weather over the night, there was a lot of damage to the field already and it was going to be too much for us to handle getting all the people out, getting entertainment going and the food going, so we had to unfortunately make that call to cancel it.”
Those who purchased their tickets in advance will be able to use them for next year’s festival, according to Maffioli.