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Festa Italiana shares colorful culture: ‘When I’m here, I feel Italian’

A group of Italian folk dancers perform at the Festa Italiana on Aug. 4, 2013.
A group of Italian folk dancers perform at the Festa Italiana on Aug. 4, 2013. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

There’s a two-day “wedding feast and banquet” coming to town, and you’re invited.

The 32nd annual Festa Italiana returns Saturday and Sunday at Sacramento’s Croatian Center Grounds. The two-day festival includes not only traditional Italian dance performances, bocce ball games and abundant pastas, pizzas and desserts, but also a brand-new Italian food truck with street food and performers from the Bay Area and the East Coast.

“We brought what we consider the best entertainment out there,” said festival director Bill Cerruti. “It’s the only time you’ll see this kind of thing in Sacramento.”

Festa Italiana primarly embraces the old-school and the timeless. The Italian Cultural Society’s Italian Folk Dance troupes will be prominently featured at the festival, as well as the all-children Bambini Dancer group in colorful, hand-made regional costumes.

Of course, there is nothing more timeless than food. Vendors at Festa Italiana will bring their culinary game throughout the weekend. Food also plays a part in the activities with the salami toss – an event in which a player throws a potato at a bunch of salami’s hanging from a roof.

“You’ll see kids walking around with three or four salamis,” said Cerutti.

For those less interested in salami and more interested in high-performance Italian vehicles, there will be plenty of those too. Mazeratis, Panteras, Alfa Romeo’s and other recognizable brands will be on display.

Proceeds benefit the Italian Cultural Center, which runs programs such as the Italian Language and Culture School. Festa Italiana is the organization’s largest fundraiser.

Cerutti said his favorite part is walking around the fair and seeing people have a good time. He said the event maintains Italian identity while sharing it with the public.

“Last year I was sitting in a chair watching a concert, and there was a couple behind me, and they were not Italian, but the lady said, ‘When I’m here, I feel Italian,’ ” Cerutti said. “That sums it up for me.”

Jacob Sweet: 916-321-1052, @_jacobsweet

The 32nd Annual Festa Italiana

Time: 11a.m. -10 p.m, Saturday, August 5; 11 a.m. - 7 p.m, sunday August 6

Location: The Croatian Center Grounds, 3720 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento

Admission: $12 (free parking, kids under 15 free)

Contact: 916-482-5900

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