Festa Italiana is ready to pass pasta and more

Jim Amato, of Clinton Township, left, and Vince & Joe’s Gourmet Markets chef, Chuck Burns, of Roseville, talk about grilling a spiedini during a former Festa Italiana in Freedom Hill County Park in Sterling Heights.

STERLING HEIGHTS – Just as the US said we’ve “reached” pandemic lockdowns, the Italian summer festival in Sterling Heights, Vista Italiana, has found its stride once again.

“It was not an issue at all” for the event to return to Freedom Hill County Park in 2021 after having to close in 2020 due to COVID-19, festival president Joe Ventimiglia said.

“Everyone was ready to go back,” he said. “The enthusiasm was incredible.

“Friday (last year), it actually rained for the first time in 17 years, and I tried not to. Saturday and Sunday (they were) very busy, we’ve already broken records from previous years. And people were just eating and drinking and enjoying themselves all two days.”

“It was an amazing turnout last year and I think this year we will be in the same area, same boat, same pent-up feeling of coming back with nationality and friends, eating some food and listening to some great music.”

The event promises to serve Italian and American food, as well as beer and wine. According to the organizers, the main sellers are Randazzo Fresh Market, Nina Salvaggio International Marketplace, Gnocchi Italian Restaurant and Little Bambino’s. Ventimiglia said Carnival goodies such as lemonade and elephant ears are also expected.

“We got a new one called the Aruba Freeze, an ice cream truck,” he added.

Sonny Randazzo, owner/CEO of Randazzo Fresh Market, said his company will set up chairs, tables and umbrellas, and invite the public to enjoy a nearby entertainment stage. It also gives Randazzo a chance to see many of his clients in a less formal setting.

“We enjoy our time together in a festive atmosphere,” he said. “You can really get a stronger connection with your customer base this way.”

In his work tent, Randazzo said, they would serve marinated lamb chops, cook hundreds of pizzas in wood-fired ovens, prepare grilled shrimp, and serve fruits like peaches, peaches, nectarines, cherries, pears, and figs.

Ventimiglia said the festival also has a great entertainment lineup this year. Scheduled works include The Bronx Wanderers, EuroRhythms Ray Massa, and The Sicilian Tenors.

“They’re an Italian family from New Jersey, the Bronx Wanderers. They’ve been to big Vegas, and they were in town on June 10 at Andiamo’s on 14 Mile Road. They’ve gotten a lot of great reviews from him.”

A fireworks display will be lit on Friday night, and a Catholic mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Throughout the weekend, the event will also feature competitions themed “Italian American Idol,” meatballs, eating cannoli, and Best Baby.

Organizers said attendees can also expect to move through activities such as bounce houses, a rock climbing wall and a zip line.

“We have a huge, great inflatable area for the kids,” Ventimiglia said.

Festa Italiana sponsors include the Michigan Italian-American Chamber of Commerce, Andiamo Restaurant Group, Carmela Specialty Foods & Fine Wines, Shelving.com, Vince & Joe’s Gourmet Markets, Lipari Foods, Genesis Alfa Romeo, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Salvati Insurance Group and the Lucido Family.

The 2022 Festa Italiana will be held at Freedom Hill County Park, 14900 Metropolitan Highway, in Sterling Heights from July 15-17. Opening hours: 6-11 PM July 15, Noon-11 PM July 16 and 10:30 AM-10 PM July 17.

Submission is free; Parking costs $10 per vehicle, per day. Learn more by visiting www.iaccm.net or www.facebook.com/FestaItaliana MI. Or call (586) 925-2020.

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