Viva L’Italia, the Italian-American Heritage Festival of Iowa, is back for its second year, and it will be taking over the Court Avenue Bridge (between East 1st Street and West 1st Street) in Downtown Des Moines July 29 – 30. The festival promises to have something for everyone with large amounts of fantastic food, live music, kid’s activities, bocce, cooking demonstrations by some of Des Moines’ top chefs, a queen contest, scooter and motorcycle displays (by Vespa, Lambretta, and Ducati), art displays, a sauce contest, an eating contest, cultural displays and videos, Italian folk dancers, and more.
Let’s start with the food. Food and beverage vendors at the 2011 Viva L’Italia include the Vittoria Lodge and Auxiliary, the Society of Italian Americans and Auxiliary, Tursi’s Latin King, Scornovacca’s Ristorante, Tumea & Sons, Yanni’s Grill & Vineyard, Baratta’s, Bordenaro’s, Gusto Pizza, Centro, Cosi Cucina, 4th Street Chicago Italian Beef, Mary Signor Cookies, Suzette Candies, Uncle Dave’s Mini Donuts, Cool Drips, Campbell Concessions, Mulvihill Farms, and Dahl’s Foods.
Some of Des Moines’ top chefs will be on hand at the 2011 Italian-American Heritage Festival of Iowa to show you the secrets of cooking great Italian food at home. Chefs giving demonstrations at this year’s Viva L’Italia include George Formaro (Centro, Django, Gateway Market, South Union Bakery, Zombie Burger + Drink Lab), Jerry Talarico (Sam and Gabe’s), Tony Lemmo (Café di Scala and Gusto Pizza), Robert Anderson (DMACC Culinary Institute), and Fidel Macias (Lucca).
If all the food and food knowledge were not enough, you won’t want to miss the live entertainment hosted by Master of Ceremonies Willie Farrell. Ferrell has spent the past 25 years making people laugh in comedy clubs and showrooms all over the U.S. Aside from Ferrell, there will also be performances by Tre Bella, the Vogues with Terry Sylvester (of the Hollies), the Retro Rockets, the Five Gumbas, II Trattenimento Italiano, Fred Gazzo & the Metropolitan Band, Moreno Fruzzetti, Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms, and more.
Viva L’Italia 2011 runs from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday. Admission is free from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. both days with a can or monetary donation to the Food Bank of Iowa. After 4 p.m. admission is $5 for ages 13 and up, and free for anyone 12 and under. For more information, including a complete schedule of events, go to www.italianfestivalofiowa.com.
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