Italian American Summer Festival


I know this post is a bit overdue but I have been busy painting the walls in the kitchen. We still have to finish the red wall, and then another yellow wall and also all the trim and a door and all the cabinets! Yikes. We aren’t even near being done. Breathe in, breathe out. No need for me to get in a tizzy. Anyway, because of all that painting and other life events, I totally forgot to write about the festival we went to two weekends ago. I present to you my experience of the Italian American Summer Festival in Berea, Ohio for 2010.

Here I am with a couple of the greeters/ticket takers. Don’t you just love that hat? I didn’t catch their names but I’m going to remember them as Angelo and Luigi!

First we parked at the wrong gate/parking lot and found we had a long walk to the actual entrance at the fairgrounds. But a nice gentleman in a golf cart picked us up and drove us over to the ticket booth/entrance. That was nice since it was about 90 degrees, sunny and humid as all get out. Goodness, it was so hot that we were not even that hungry. But the first thing we enjoyed was some wonderful gelato! We found a big tent to sit in the shade and enjoy this yummy treat.

Next we walked around to all the booths and food vendors to see what was there. I am going to be honest and say that I was disappointed. There were many commercial booths for home improvement, cable tv and the like. I did not expect to be “hawked” at by these folks and found it kind of rude. I know they are there for sales but really, how many times can I get new gutters or waterproof my basement? Does that bother anyone else when they go to fairs or festivals?

We looked at the schedule and found out the pasta eating contest was coming up at 6 PM. We decided to stick around for that event and then maybe leave afterwards. The crowd was small at this point so I wondered if anyone was going to show up. Back to the booths, we found two booths for Italian-American clubs, a few jewelry sellers, a t-shirt vendor selling all kinds of shirt with Italian sayings on them, some political booths and more gutter sellers. As for the food, the choices were more varied. We found a seafood booth, a sausage booth, someone selling Stromboli and pizza, a kettle corn seller, cold drinks, a beer/wine trailer, and of course elephant ears were being sold. Most of that is not Italian food! But then we did stumble upon Bruno’s, which is a local restaurant and they had some great food there. We ended up getting our dinner from them.  They were only one of a handful of local restaurants or stores who actually came to sell their food there. Another was Rito’s Bakery and Deli where we bought a cannoli for my son and some biscotti to bring home.

Here I am with my food from Bruno’s.

What you see is sausage stuffed banana peppers and eggplant lasagna, both of which were so yummy! My husband got the same thing. Here he is in his Oktoberfest beer t-shirt at the ITALIAN AMERICAN festival! Caleb is behind him looking very hot and sweaty.

I love him even if he wore that shirt! He loves my cooking and would not trade me in for anything, or so he says. I think I’ll keep him. He is rather hott on his Harley! (If you are reading this honey, don’t be mad! lol)

We did find that the Italians do in fact make beer and not just wine. They were selling Moretti beer, imported from Italy. It was really good! Of course the very next day Phil found out they sold this beer at our local store and brought home a six-pack. What a guy!

When it was getting close to 6 PM we decided to move up closer to where they were doing the pasta eating contest and it was a good thing we moved when we did. By 5:45 PM the place was filling up quickly. We learned that the current champ had won 3 years in a row and they told him if he won again, please don’t enter next year! lol… His son also entered this year as well as a few women. One guy who was named Angelo for real, entered and he was just itching to get eating that plate of pasta. The contestants were not allowed to use their hands,  just their mouths. They had to take breaks every 30 seconds when time was called. Well before the first break was even called, Jim won, again! They even gave him more pasta than the rest! Angelo was a close second place.  Here are a few pictures of the contest. Oh yeah, Jim is Polish!!! 

The emcees who were personalities from a local news channel and a short Italian guy who also comes from the Molise region like my family.

Jim is on the far left, Angelo is in the orange tank top. He skipped the protective poncho! lol…

One of the women contestants along with a few first time entrants.

Jim was presented with his award and a gift basket. It was a fun contest even if it was short. They also had a cornhole tournament going on that day.  I guess later in the evening they had more music and maybe fireworks but we were so hot we left by 7 PM. 

 Like I said, I was somewhat disappointed because I expected more Italian experiences. They did offer grape stomping on Sunday so they did try. I figured after doing this for 10 years there would be more.  I think if there were food demos or more interactive things going on there might have been a bigger crowd.  At least there weren’t any carnival rides! There was that rock wall and a bounce house for the kids but nothing else. I am not sure I am going to go again. I wish they had offered more.

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