Longtime Italian Festival Returns After Two Year Break

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JAMESTOWN – Coming back for the first time in two years, many celebrated a decades long tradition of enjoying authentic Italian themed cuisines at the 70th St. James Italian Festival over the weekend.

“This is our 70th anniversary of the St. James Italian Festival,“ explained Tom Franco. “After a two year hiatus we’re able to come back after the pandemic. We’re a little bit of a shorter version, but the booths are full of everything we need.”   

For this year, many different Italian themed dishes made their way into the festival, including foods like pasta salad, pizza, Italian cold brew coffee, and even some Baklava from neighboring Albania brought by the Albanian Orthodox Church.

“We are having some authentic Italian food,“ explained Chairman Sally Donisi. “Most of it is all homemade, we are going to have fried bread dough made by our very own kitchen, we have fried pepperoni balls made of that dough as well, we have meatball subs, sausage subs.      

It was not just food that was on display, but Italian culture too.

“The locally famous Italian dancers that are stationed at St. James,“ says Franco. “They’ve been dancing for over 10 years and Sally is one of our lead dancers in that.” 

The St. James Church has been in operation since 1910, with the festival starting thanks to local Italian families with big hearts. 

“Years ago, and I’m saying like 70 years ago, all the parishioners would bring their foods and have a big family picnic,“ says Franco. “The neighborhood would see that and they’d look and they would get invited.”

While the festival has been happening for 70 years, organizers would like to see the longtime tradition continue into future generations. 

“We’re looking to pass on traditions,“ explained Donisi. “And this is what we want to keep alive moving forward.” 

In the end, the pair had one thing to say about the return of the festival, “Bon Appetit”.


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