By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE -- Now in its fourth year, the Festival Italiano is shaping up to be one of the largest this area has seen.
"Last year, more than 3,000 people came out for the festival," said Gioacchino "Jack" DiGiorgio, festival president. "The turnout was incredible, and this year we are expecting new faces as well as old friends."
The celebration of Italian-American culture, food and music is now a two-day event, taking place on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center.
Sponsored by Arrigo Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram of Fort Pierce, admission and parking are free for the event. There will be live music, prizes, a pizza-eating contest and other activities.
"This year's event promises to be bigger and better than the previous years," said Mr. DiGiorgio.
The entertainment for the event includes performances from the tenor Teo Ricciardella, the soprano Anna Nicotra, Neapolitan singer Nino Cordaro, Erminio Spalla, Xtreme 3, Joy & Ray, Joseph Giardina, Gianni Monti and Anna Fontana. One of the headlining acts is the New York pop singer Angelo Venuto, who has reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts with his music.
Another thing that will make this festival special is that it will be broadcasting live on Radio1NewYork.com.
"Anyone from anywhere will be able to follow the festival as it happens," Mr. DiGiorgio said.
In addition, there will be a number of art and craft vendors, a kids' area with many games, and Italian novelties and souvenirs.
A pizza-eating contest will take place on Saturday, and on Sunday children can help break of the "pignata," the Italian version of a piņata.
There will also be a bocce court tournament held, sponsored by Lowe's Home Improvement of Jensen Beach.
The festival will take place from noon to 9 p.m. Feb. 23 and from noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center, located at the corner of U.S. 1 and Walton Road in Port St. Lucie. For more information, visit www.pslfestivalitaliano.com.