By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 31, 2022 at 11:01 AM

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Taking inspiration from the street festivals that once took place in the Italian Third Ward, Festa Italiana will host its 2022 festival on the grounds of the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago Ave.

After canceling the festival on the Summerfest grounds in 2020, 2021 and 2022 fears were that Festa – the oldest of the lakefront ethnic festivals, but one that hit rough financial waters after a weather-battered 2019 event and the pandemic – was done, at least for now and maybe forever.

The tradition continues.

But on Tuesday morning, Italian Community Center President Rose Anne Ceraso Fritchie announced that Festa is back, and going back to its roots.

The two-day event, set for Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25, will take place on the former coach yards behind that ICC that now serve as the center's parking lot.

"We’re bringing all the Festa favorites, including bocce, our Italian Dance Group, Cucina, Italian Idol, the Mass and Procession, and more to our backyard, all with the intimacy and charm of a traditional ethnic street festival," says Fritchie on behalf of the board of directors.

"Food, family, tradizione. This is the Festa Italiana experience. We’re excited to welcome everyone to enjoy the food, wine, music, dancing and everything Italian."

Although the specific details on the event have yet to be completely unveiled, I for one am excited.

Having grown up at street festivals like Festa di San Gennaro in New York's Little Italy and the Our Lady of Pompeii festival in Greenwich Village, I'm excited to see Festa get back out onto the street, where it was truly born decades before it landed at the Henry Maier Festival Park in 1978.

"Laverne and Shirley" fans may also recall the episode in which the cast took part in a Giglio competition at an Italian street festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.