La Festa Italiana e’ tornata.

Translation: it’s coming back.

After a summer off because of COVID-19, the popular Labor Day weekend festival will return Sept. 3 through 6 to its usual environs on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton. This will be the 45th La Festa Italiana.

“It was nice to have a year off,” joked Chris DiMattio, active in organizing the food and entertainment festival since 1988, and president of its board of directors since 1992.

DiMattio said the festival will feature most of the same family food vendors but with social distancing between tables and plenty of hand sanitizer stations to make people feel comfortable.

With masking requirements expected to end in Pennsylvania before July 4 as COVID-19’s spread slows, DiMattio said the festival will comply with whatever health and safety rules are in place at the time.

The festival started Oct. 10, 1976, part of Columbus Day weekend. It moved to Labor Day weekend in 1981, and has since served as a way for Lackawanna County to mark the end of summer. Tens of thousands attend.

Mario Diana’s family has served sausage and peppers, tripe, pasta fagioli and pizza frita since the first festival. He’s delighted the festival will return. Family members prepare food for two weeks beforehand. Many friends and former residents travel long distances to attend and sample the foods.

“We’re more than ecstatic,” Diana said. “I’m happy people are getting back to normal.”

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