Italian festival celebrates heritage, benefits CCS

Friday, Aug. 30, 2019
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Festa Italiana, an annual celebration of Italian culture and traditions, will mark its fifth anniversary this year by using profits from the event to support Catholic Community Services of Utah’s homeless and refugee outreach services.

“Festa Italiana SLC was born out of members of the Italian American Civic League (IACL) who had the idea of creating an Italian street festival like those showcased in most major cities in the United States,” said  Nick Fuoco, the event’s director.

IACL, established in 1934, is a nonprofit organization that is committed to promoting Italian culture.

“We as a group decided this was something we wanted to do, and its founding members worked with the Salt Lake City mayor’s office, businesses and community organizations to figure out a way to fund it,” Fuoco said.

About 9,000 people attended the first Festa Italiana SLC, which was held across from Pioneer Park. However, every year since then the number of attendees has increased, so another location was needed to accommodate the crowds.

“The Gateway reached out and invited us, and from Year Two on we have been there, which has been a tremendous partnership. Last year, in our fourth year, we had 30,000 attendees. This year we are expecting over 40,000,” said Fuoco about the two-day street festival.

Among Festa Italiana’s  core values are providing an authentic Italian experience and a community-based focus. “As such, all of our staff members are completely volunteer so we can focus on achieving our values, and we give back to the community each year,” Fuoco said.

 This year, the organization chose to share its proceeds with Catholic Community Services of Utah.

“Given we very much focus on downtown Salt Lake City and it has given back to us so much with Festa Italiana SLC, we were particularly excited by CCS’ efforts in helping the most vulnerable not only downtown but throughout Utah,” said Fuoco, adding that Festa Italiana also supports the Italian Club of Salt Lake, the Carmelite Order, the Road Home, the Assistance League, “and other various charities throughout the year as part of our civic efforts.”

During the two-day street festival, people can expect activities such as arts and crafts, live Italian entertainment, authentic Italian food booths, historical displays, an Italian car show and an eating contest.

“We believe our country is a sum of all of its parts, and this tapestry is valuable to America and makes us better,” Fuoco said. “By celebrating and appreciating culture and diversity we can appreciate and understand each other a little bit more. … The Italians have provided much to the landscape of Utah and Utah has given us much in return, so we are excited about being able to give back to the people of Utah and those in need through Festa Italiana SLC.”

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