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Festival Brings Italian Culture, Food to UST

Festival Brings Italian Culture, Food to USTThe 34th Annual Houston Italian Festival, Oct. 11-14, is sure to excite Houstonians to celebrate all things Italian. Hosted on the University of St. Thomas campus, events such as grape stomps for adults and children, pasta eating contests, a bocce tournament and collie dogs playing soccer will be a treat for the entire family. The event is sponsored by the Italian Cultural and Community Center. See a video showcasing the fun and vibrancy of Festa Italiana.

Below are some entertaining festival activities for adults, children and the entire family.

Score a Goal on Soccer Collies
New this year, and for the first time in Texas, play soccer with two high-energy collies. Visiting from Florida, these collies know their way around the field. Ages 2 to 92 are welcome to try to score a goal starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and at every half of the hour through Sunday at no charge.

New Foods Tantalize the Taste Buds
No Italian festival is complete without plates spilling over with homemade Italian cuisine. In addition to your family favorites, new foods this year include eggplant parmesan, insalata panzanella, insalata de mare, affogato, tiramisu and an antipasto plate. An appealing treat festival goers must try: Italian nachos.

Festival Presents Events for Adults, Children
The Taste of Italy Pavilion and the three stages, Main, Children’s and Italian Culture stages, feature events and activities around the clock. With plenty of events, such as cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, live entertainment, dancing the Tarantella and feature films, adults and children can immerse themselves in all parts of the Italian culture. Also, the adult and youth bocce ball tournaments let people strut their bocce skills.

Also, raffle tickets are available for a chance to win a 2012 FIAT 500 Hatchback Lounge, donated by FIAT of Clearlake. The drawing for the car is on Oct. 14. Ticket sales benefit the ICCC.

High School Artists Participate in I Madonnari Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest
High school students will create original chalk-art pieces on the sidewalks at UST for the I Madonnari Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest. Students are allowed a 3-inch-by-3-inch square and are able to draw all day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Subjects range from traditional Madonna images to more modern designs. The winners will be announced on the Festival's Main Stage at 6 p.m. Stop by to watch artists display their talents.

Pasta Lovers Unite in Pasta Eating Contest
Pasta lovers will be ready to eat a full plate of pasta with one hand at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on the dance floor in front of the Main Stage. Space is limited space, so sign up early in the day.

The festival hours, rain or shine, are:

  • Thursday, Oct. 11: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (Admission free Thursday)
  • Friday, Oct. 12: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Admission free until 4 p.m.)
  • Saturday, Oct. 13: 11 a.m. -10 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 14: 11 a.m. -6 p.m.

Festival Brings Italian Culture, Food to USTSee the full schedule.
All are invited to the 9:30 a.m. outdoor Mass on Sunday, Oct. 14 on the festival grounds. The Rev. Michael Buentello, CSB, will offer the Mass. The Children’s Choir from St. Vincent de Paul will also participate.

Admission is $8 for adults and free for children 12 and younger. Purchase discount tickets in advance until Oct. 10.

For information, to volunteer and to purchase discount presale tickets and FIAT raffle tickets, visit Visitors may park in the Moran Center Parking Garage for $2 per exit and additional surface lots and public street parking also available.

Proceeds from the festival support the ICCC, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Children’s Art Project, UST's Scholarship Fund, the International Student Exchange Program, the Society for the Performing Arts and the Monarch School.