Festa Italiana is one of the most important and well-loved Italian American traditions in metro Detroit. It is an annual 3-day festival, which hosts more than 40,000 guests each year. For three days this summer, the entire family can enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Italy. More than 30 food vendors serve the best Italian food in metro Detroit. Taste the finest Italian wines, beer, and cocktails. Festa Italiana was organized in about 1970 by the Italian American Chamber of Commerce of Michigan. The festival’s first Chairman was Ross Amicucci; however, Ross sadly passed away in 1973, and the reigns were handed over to the long time Festa Chairman Martin “Reno” Garagiola. Originally the event was hosted along Atwater Street in downtown Detroit, but Reno moved the festival to Hart Plaza on the waterfront in 1975. In the early 1990s Reno moved the Festa to Freedom Hill County Park in Sterling Heights where it has been held almost every year since. For a few years, the Festa had to be relocated to Macomb Community College and downtown Mount Clemens, as Freedom Hill was shut down temporarily. Reno Garagiola served as the Chairman of the Festa from 1973 until he passed away in 2007. At that point, the torch was passed to the Festa’s current Chairman Joseph P. Ventimiglia. Although Reno passed away in 2007 his legacy lives on every July as metro Detroit Italians gather to celebrate and enjoy amazing Italian food, wine, entertainment and most importantly, the company of their fellow Italians in the community. In 2004 the Festa Italiana was in danger of becoming extinct. However, several local Italian Americans refused to let it become a thing of the past. Reno Garagiola and Joe Ventimiglia with the help of Nino Salvaggio, The Randazzo Family, Joe Vicari of Andiamo Italia, The Picano Family, Frank Mastro, and Tom Bommarito, amongst others, got to work to ensure the Festa would go on. Festa Italiana also hosts several other local food vendors each year including Gnocchi Italian Restaurant, Vince and Joe's Gourmet Market, and a range of other rotating vendors like Red Smoke BBQ, Great Lakes Food Truck, National Coney Island, and Mr. G’s Concessions, serving everything from funnel cake to French fries. Each year the Festa hosts not only local but also national talent on the famous Lucido Family Stage. In addition to the great food and entertainment, the Festa also hosts such attractions as an inflatable fun zone for kids, and a petting zoo. Most recently the Festa has also hosted a spectacular Firework show for its guests on the opening night that is so good, it shuts down traffic. In 2019 the Festa organizers were also able to host flag throwers all the way from Italy- Sbandieratori Ducato Caetani Citta di Sermonata. At the Festa guests can also enjoy some other traditions such as the annual cannoli eating contest, the meatball contest, the beautiful baby contest, a singing contest, and a Sunday Mass. Although the Italian American Chamber of Commerce was responsible for establishing the festival, it was hosted for several years by the Italian American Cultural Society – largely in part to the fact that Reno, Joe, and many other members were heavily involved in both organizations. In 2018 Joe Ventimiglia named Aaron Marentette another IACCM member as his Festa Italiana Co-Chairman. In 2019 the IACCM again assumed the role of the Festa Italiana’s presenting organization, a special year in which they were also celebrating their 100th year of existence. Many of the IACCM members have stepped up to ensure the Festa continues to be a successful event for years to come. The Festa would not be possible if it were not for all of wonderful sponsors who have helped keep the Festa alive and growing over the years, including the Lucido Family, Alfa Romeo of Lakeside, Fern Hill Golf Club, Andiamo Italia, Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace, Randazzo Fresh Market, Bagnasco & Calcaterra Funeral Homes, Dr. Anthony Giordano with Shelby Foot and Ankle, MJC Builders, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Caliber Home Loans, Lalonde Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Dealership, T-Mobile, Wujek-Calcaterra Funeral Home, Metzler Locricchio Serra CPAs, Giuseppe’s International Oils and Vinegars, Summit Plastic Molding, and Soave Enterprises.
Festival Chairman- Joe Ventimiglia
Festival Vice Chairman - Aaron Marentette
Festival Emcee - Ron DiBartolomeo