Food, fun and music — Italian festival gears up for 50th anniversary celebration | Local News
Much more than food will be available at the McAlester Italian Festival 50th anniversary celebration – although there is plenty of food too.
Everything from music to arts and crafts, a car show, carnival and helicopter rides are part of this year’s event.
This year’s two-day festival is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14, at the Southeast Expo Center and Pittsburg County Fairgrounds, with the festival starting in the morning and continuing into the night.
It is the first time the Italian Festival has been held in three years, with the 2020 and 2021 festivals being canceled due to concerns over COVID-19. Organizers said there was a lot of excitement for the festival to return in 2022.
“I think we’ll have a good turnout,” said Bobby Lenardo, co-chairman of the Italian festival committee. “The weather is cooperating and people can’t wait to get out.”
The opening and crowning ceremonies for this year’s Re and Regina are scheduled for Saturday, the second day of the festival, from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the main stage near the catering tent. Veterans of the Post 1098 Foreign Wars will display the colors, along with McAlester Army Munitions Plant Commander Col. Michael. F. Hammond the featured speaker.
The music starts at 11 a.m. on Friday and will continue throughout the festival. Again, there is no entry and free parking at the festival site.
Vendors will be set up inside and outside the Southeast Expo Center.
One of the most popular venues is the Italian Festival food tent, where Italian dinners are served, costing $12 for adults and $7 for children. Another food tent nearby offers more items.
“We’ll have homemade pizzas and all kinds of sandwiches,” Lenardo said.
He said many vendors came to the festival, many of which were set up inside the exhibition center.
“Inside the building we will have all kinds of vendors,” Lenardo said. “We will have everything from jewelry to art to household items. Outside, food vendors will offer items ranging from funnel cakes and shaved ice to activities such as face painting. A vendor brings in hot corn, roast corn, and the specialty known as elotes, or Mexican corn, which usually includes mayonnaise, cream cheese, and peppers.
All kinds of special activities are planned.
“We’ll have a cornhole tournament at noon on Saturday,” Lenardo said.
The Meatball Nationals Car, Truck and Bike show begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, he said. The entry fee for the event is $25, with prizes awarded to the winners. It is not necessary to register before the festival. “They can register at the fairgrounds,” Lenardo said. Awards are due for winners around noon Saturday, he said.
Other activities include a spaghetti eating contest for kids at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and a spaghetti sauce contest. Spaghetti sauce entrees will be accepted until 10 a.m. Saturday, with the winner announced around noon, Lenardo said.
Friday music includes House Music from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Larry and Kathy Stewart (Stewart Wolves), 3-4:30 p.m.; Joe Disilvestro, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Robby V & The Smokin’ Section, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Saturday’s Main Stage lineup includes House Music from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Opening and Coronation Ceremonies, from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; The Music Store Students and Student Band, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; House Music/Spaghetti Contest Announcements, 12:30-1:30 p.m.; Open Mic, 1:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m.; Powerful Three, 3-4:30 p.m.; Blue Zebra/Chris Morris, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and House Party, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., or even.
Although admission to the Italian Festival is free, some activities have a cost, such as a monster truck ride as well as helicopter rides by Fly Tulsa. “They should be here Friday around noon and Saturday all day,” Lenardo said.
The Thomas Brothers Carnival will be at the site Friday and Saturday, from noon until around 10 p.m., Lenardo said. It should be operational on Thursday, a day before the start of the festival, he said.
Local and craft beers will also be available at the festival, along with wine and wine tastings, Lenardo said.
A tent dedicated to Italian heritage is included in this year’s festival. Steve and Phyllis DeFrange will have their 1961 FIAT 500D at the festival, and people can take pictures standing near the small Italian car if they wish, Lenardo said.
“We will also be selling 50th Anniversary T-shirts,” Lenardo said, with shirts available in a range of sizes.
One difference in this year’s festival is that it will take place on Friday and Saturday only, not Sunday.
Lenardo arrived early Wednesday at the festival grounds at 4500 West US Highway 270. He said the site was in good shape. “The fairgrounds are broke, thanks to the county commissioners and the sheriff’s office,” Lenardo said.
“Looks like it’s going to be a big festival.”
Contact James Beaty at [email protected]