La Festa Italiana set to promote heritage with food, fun


By Valerie Cutshall

Where can you find 8,000 meatballs, 10,000 biscotti, 240 gallons of spaghetti sauce and a whole lot of Italian wines and beer? Only at the 28th Annual La Festa Italiana.

La Festa Italiana runs from Aug. 29 to Aug. 31 at the Fort Omaha campus of Metropolitan Community College, located at 30th and Fort streets. The event is held every year to promote the Italian heritage to the community and bring the best of Italy to Omaha. This year’s attendance is estimated at 12,000 people, which is an increase from last year.

“This is our 20th annual La Festa here in Omaha and it will be a big success,” said Sarah Burrus, spokeswoman for the event. “We want the public to have a great time. One, they’ll always remember. And two, to see how Italian culture cooks, what they eat, and the music they listen to.”

Nine hundred volunteers start in early July to prepare all the homemade Italian food for the Festa. Volunteers make all the food and work at the event and other community members offer professional services.

“By attending the Festa, people may just want to visit Italy and see the real beauty of the country,” Burrus said.

She is looking for new volunteers to help out in different spots at the Festa.

“We always welcome anyone who wants to lend a hand,” Burrus said.

The Festa offers many other activities besides the food. Entertainment at the Festa includes society production numbers, Italian marching band, folk dancers, bocce ball, cooking demos, children’s rides, activities, clowns and dancing.

“I love it, although it’s a lot of work, it’s great to see all the smiling faces who really appreciate this event,” Burrus said. “I think it’s a very big asset to our community. We need to make a lot of ethnic events available to the public. I believe people really appreciate the unique and rich heritage of the community.”

Tickets for the Festa are $4.50 for advanced tickets and $5.50 at the gate. Tickets can be purchased at Kohll’s pharmacies, Bolamperti Family Dentistry offices and Rockbrook camera.

If anyone wants to volunteer at this year’s La Festa Italiana, contact Burrus at 341-9562.