Italian festival coming to Central Park in Lakewood Ranch

srocco@bradenton.comNovember 15, 2013 

Food will be a big part of Festa Italiana at Central Park in Lakewood Ranch on Saturday. HERALD FILE PHOTO

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Central Park will celebrate Italian fare and folklore Saturday when it hosts the second Festa Italiana.

"Last year, we had a really successful festival," said Lori Basilone, director of community activities for Lakewood Ranch. "We had it over Columbus Day weekend. It was a little warm. This year, we decided to move it into November where the weather will be more comfortable."

Festa Italiana will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Central Park's outdoor amenity area, 12150 Forest Park Circle.

Food and beverage vendors will be on site pumping out all the Italian classics. There will be live entertainment throughout the day from opera singing to magic shows. The Tarantella Dancers, based in St. Petersburg, are coming back this year for two performances through

out the day.

"We do dances from northern Italy all the way down to Sicily," said director Richard Tellone. "We start with a polka dance from the Alps area that has some German influence. Then we work down to Sicily for the Sicilian tarantellas."

There will also be a dog costume contest to benefit the Humane Society of Lakewood Ranch. Participants can enter their dogs for $5 each before 2 p.m.

Admission is free, but food and beverages will cost extra. Free parking will be provided at B.D. Gullett Elementary School on 44th Avenue East and a shuttle will take visitors to and from the event.

Organizers are expecting between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors at this year's festival, which will raise funds for the Lakewood Ranch Italian-American Club.

"We're trying to raise money so we can build the Italian-American Club a bocce court and they can play with other residents and the community," Basilone said.

There is a possibility of rain over the weekend, but Basilone said the event will march on rain or shine.

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.

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