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Festa Italiana returns to Bradford with three days of festivities to celebrate the Italian community

St. James Italian Heritage Dance Club, which performed at the 2015 Festa Italiana.
Festa Italiana Facebook page
St. James Italian Heritage Dance Club, which performed at the 2015 Festa Italiana.

Bradford’s annual Festa Italiana is returning from a two-year hiatus. The festivities will include Italian food, live entertainment and fireworks.

Mary Ann Colestro is the president of Festa Italiana. She said the event originated from smaller Saint Rocco’s Day celebrations in Bradford’s tight-knit Italian community. The LaStella Lodge and Auxiliary started Festa Italiana in 1979, and the event has since grown to attract thousands of attendees each year. She said the festival is a great way to continue Italian traditions.

“All of our families, most of the people on the committee that help out, goes back generations and generations and generations. Their father helped. Their grandfather used to help. That’s usually how you get roped in, so to speak. It just gets passed along,” Colestro said.

A big draw for the festival is the food. She said the LaStella Auxiliary has been busy preparing Italian staples like cannolis, Italian sausage, meatball sandwiches and pasta fazool.

“It’s a pride thing for sure. And we love to share it with people. A lot of us, we eat this food all the time. But every year, I realize how some other people, this might be the one time of year they have that stuff,” Colestro said.

She’s also proud that all the event's proceeds go to local organizations, including youth groups, sports teams and church groups. Festa Italiana will take place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.