WALLA WALLA -- Sip an Italian soda, munch on Italian pastries and celebrate all things Italian at the 23rd annual "Festa Italiana" on Oct. 11-12.
The festival, organized by Walla Walla's Italian Heritage Association, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 11 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds.
On both days, there will be a variety of booths selling Italian meatball and sausage sandwiches, soft drinks and Italian pastries. Vendors also will be offering everything from paintings to jewelry and books.
There will be entertainment for all ages, including traditional Italian dancing, music and games.
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Association members also will have displays of family photos, histories and memorabilia of early Italian settlers in the Walla Walla Valley, said "Festa Italiana" co-chairwoman Pam Elia.
On Oct. 12, there will be games for the whole family and two contests -- The Best Red Sauce and The Best Biscotti. The Kiddie Grape Stomp starts at 11:30 a.m. followed by the adult Grape Stomp at noon. Adult and children's traditional Italian dancers and musicians will perform in the afternoon.
Daytime events are free both days.
Highlight of the "Festa Italiana" is a family-style banquet in the Community Building at the fairgrounds.
The evening begins at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 with antipasto of cheeses, Italian meats, olives, fruits, fresh veggies and breads.
Dinner is served at 7 p.m. The menu includes prime rib, handmade meatballs, meat and vegetarian lasagnas, salad, garlic bread, homemade cannoli and soft drinks and coffee. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.
"Like any Italian family, we always have plenty of food. No one will go away hungry," Elia said.
The Bonnie Birch Band from Seattle will play Italian music Oct. 11, both at the "Festa" and during the dinner and afterward for dancing.
There will be a children's area set aside at the dinner with crafts and games to keep the kids busy while their parents visit and enjoy the music, she said.
Dinner tickets cost $25 for adults and $12 for children 7-13 years old. Kids 6 years and younger are free. To buy tickets, call Elia at 509-629-2866.
*Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org