BY BOBBY BRIER
Celebrate Italian culture, cuisine and community in a family-friendly environment at Scranton’s La Festa Italiana.
The festival begins its 45th season on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton during Labor Day weekend: Friday, Sept. 3, from 4 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 4, and Sunday, Sept. 5th, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 6, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
After being canceled last year because of COVID-19, the free event resumes this year with sanitizers, masks and a vaccine tent all being provided for free, Christopher DiMattio, the president and chairman of the board of directors for the festival, said in a recent phone interview.
The festival returns with many of the same attractions as in years past. Food vendors, live entertainment and the Capt. James R. Minicozzi ninth annual memorial race all take place as part of the festival weekend.
“We have a great committee,” DiMattio said of his fellow volunteers. “We all work well together. We all, you know, it’s a common goal to make sure we have smiling faces and promote Scranton.”
To help you navigate this year’s festivities, we’ve put together a handy guide to all things La Festa Italiana.
Bring your appetite. With close to 60 vendors at this year’s festival, there is a plethora of dining options to choose from including sausage and peppers, pizza, pasta, rice balls and UNICO National’s porketta sandwiches. Italian pastries, cappuccino and espresso also will be on hand. New vendor Piccioccchi’s Pasta, Clarks Summit, features pasta chefs who lived in Genoa, Italy. Other vendors include Luigi’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, Olyphant, and Carmella’s Italian Deli and Pastries, Scranton.
“I think the success of the festival is … most rewarding. To see all those people. To see what everyone has to offer. To see people smiling. To hear the music playing. There’s a lot of ambience that goes on there and it’s just … (a) wonderful experience,” William Padula said, who is the son of the owners of Carmella’s.
This year’s headlining act, the Bronx Wanderers, received a standing gig at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas after a successful run in New York, according to DiMattio. They will be performing on Friday, Sept. 3, at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage.
“We’re just really lucky to get them in this year,” DiMattio said.
Other acts that will take the stage over the course of the festival include the Cameos, a New Jersey-based oldies and vocal harmony group, and the Mark Montella Project featuring Erin Malloy. Attendees can enjoy additional performances by Electric City Steel Drum Band, 5-Star Dance Academy, juggler Robert Smith, New Jersey-based comedian “Uncle Floyd” Vivino, Ballet Theatre of Scranton, Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax and Popstar Drive. DiMattio and Andy DiMino will perform in the Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin Tribute Show on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 6 p.m. on the main stage. A fireworks display will light up the sky on Sunday, Sept. 5, at approximately 10 p.m.
La Festa Italiana continues its tradition of being a family-friendly event with lots of activities for kids. The event, which does not serve alcohol, will include performances by Al Grout, a juggler and magician, on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 1 and 3 p.m., on the main stage, and Damien the Magician on Sunday, Sept. 5, and Monday, Sept. 6, on the Wayne Bank stage.
Following the traditions of years past, a Mass will be celebrated in Italian and English on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Cathedral, 315 Wyoming Ave., Scranton.
The Co-Op Farmers Market, 900 Barring Ave., Scranton, will take place Friday, Sept. 3, from noon to 6 p.m. and will feature a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and baked goods. For more information, call 570-961-8251.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will play a stretch of home games at PNC Field, 235 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic, from Tuesday, Aug. 31, through Sunday, Sept. 5. On Friday, Sept. 3, the game starts at 7:05 p.m. against the Buffalo Bison. The ballpark will host “The Office” Night in celebration of the Scranton-based TV show. Fireworks will light up the sky after the game. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $10.
Visit milb.com/scranton-wb/tickets/promotions to purchase tickets. On Sunday, Sept. 5, the ballpark will host a family fun day with guests having the option to take the Electric City Trolley from downtown Scranton to PNC Field in Moosic. Tickets cost $20 and includes a round-trip trolley ride to and from the game and a game ticket. Reservations are required. For more information, call 570-963-6590.
For more information on the rest of the Labor Day weekend games at PNC Field, visit milb.com/scranton-wb.
The Nay Aug Park Sunday Summer Concert Series continues on Sunday, Sept. 5, 500 Arthur Ave., Scranton with West 3rd Street Band at 2 p.m. and Tara Michel Watkins & Friends at 5. For more information, call 570-561-7584.
All Scranton Parking Authority garages offer a rate of $6 per day during the festival. The festival will affect traffic surrounding Courthouse Square on Friday, Sunday and Monday. Starting Friday at 4 p.m., North Washington Avenue will close from Mulberry to Spruce streets. Spruce Street will close from Jefferson to North Washington avenues, and the 500 block of Linden street will shut down, too. The 400 block of Linden Street will be open to all people with access to the parking garage and also available as a space where people with disabilities can be dropped off. One lane of traffic will remain open on Adams Avenue. Access will be permitted to business owners and apartment residents who occupy space on these blocks.
For more information and the most up-to-date schedule, visit lafestaitaliana.org.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127
Friday, Sept. 3
- 4:30 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- 5 p.m.: The Exact Change Band featuring Paul LaBelle
- 6:30 p.m.: Electric City Steel Drum Band
- 7:30 p.m.: The Bronx Wanderers
- Saturday, Sept. 4
- Noon: Flaxy Morgan
- 2 p.m.: 5-Star Dance Academy
- 2:30 p.m.: Old Friends
- 4:30 p.m.: Arts in Movement Dance
- 5 p.m.: Burn The Jukebox
- 7 p.m.: The Cameos
Sunday, Sept. 5
- Noon: Mike Lanza
- 1 p.m.: Al Grout, juggler and magician
- 1:30 p.m.: Mark Montella Project featuring Erin Malloy
- 3 p.m.: Al Grout, juggler and magician
- 3:30 p.m.: Connie Francis Tribute featuring Nikki Rasmus
- 4:30 p.m.: “Uncle Floyd” Vivino
- 5:30 p.m.: Ballet Theatre of Scranton
- 6 p.m.: Frank and Dean Tribute Show featuring Chris DiMattio, Andy DiMino and Ken McGraw’s Brass & Ivory Big Band
- 8:30 p.m.: Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax
- 10 p.m.: Fireworks
Monday, Sept. 6
- 12:30 p.m.: The Gene Dempsey Orchestra
- 2 p.m.: Prima Elite Dance Academy
- 3 p.m.: The Luongo Brothers, with Gino Mercuri as Elvis and a special appearance by Frankie Gervasi
- 4 p.m.: Michael Castaldo, La Festa’s Principal Italian Tenor
- 6 p.m.: Popstar Drive
Wayne Bank Stage and Picnic Area (Adams Avenue and Spruce Street)
Friday, Sept. 3
- 4:30 p.m.: Danny Argo & Friends
- 7 p.m.: Fuzzy Park Band
Saturday, Sept. 4
- Noon: The Frost
- 2 p.m.: Big King Mouse
- 4 p.m.: Sarah Marie and Joseph
- 7 p.m.: Meet Me on Marcie
Sunday, Sept. 5
- Noon: Tony Vergnetti
- 2:30 p.m.: Danny Argo & Friends
- 5 p.m.: Janice Gambo-Chesna
- 7 p.m.: Gerard Mayer Band
Monday, Sept. 6
- Noon: The Wanabees
- 2 p.m.: Jim Cullen, Jack Bordo & Sharon Ambrozia
- 4 p.m.: East Coast