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Festa Italiana Attracts 16,500 Guests to UST

Festa Italiana Attracts 16,500 Guests to USTTraditional Italians may be used to feeding large groups of people, but the 33rd Festa Italiana takes the cake.  In the third year of hosting the Italian festival at the University of St. Thomas, the Festa Italiana attracted about 16,500 people on campus from Oct. 14-16. As one of the city’s largest ethnic festivals, the festival is sponsored by the Italian Cultural & Community Center and brings the culture of Italy to Houston with Italian food, entertainment and art. A portion of the festival admission proceeds will be applied toward scholarships at UST.

The festival grounds were lined with booths of authentic homemade Italian foods, including 14,350 meatballs, handmade by members of the Italian Cultural & Community Center. Guests also enjoyed spaghetti, meatball sandwiches, chicken marsala, cannoli, sfingi (Italian donuts), Italian cream cupcakes and gelato (Italian ice cream).

Other festival highlights were the grape stomping and pasta eating contests, and teams could test their skill at the bocce ball tournament. Area high school students also competed in the I Madonarri Sidewalk Art Contest. The Taste of Italy Pavilion was expanded this year, featuring more wine tastings, samplings, cooking demonstrations and limited-order Specialties of the Day. Guests were able to browse dozens of booths of art, jewelry, gifts and more, and hear music by Italian artists Elio Scaccio and DJ-Italia.

Children enjoyed marionette puppet shows and the children’s culture stage. There, kids were able to take a tour of Italy, see films of the country, and learn about the culture and activities of each region.

Jo Ann Pinkerton, chair of Festa Italiana, said next year, the Italian Cultural & Community Center hopes to expand the activities for adults and families.  In addition, they plan to introduce even more traditional authentic foods handed down from generation to generation. Stay tuned at for details on next year’s festival.