The enjoyment of all things Italian is the outstanding feature of the annual LaFesta event that will take place this Friday, August 3, Saturday, August 4 and Sunday, August 5 at the Sons of Italy in downtown Williamsport.
If you look up LaFesta in a dictionary, you may get a couple of different meanings. One being The Feast, another The Festival, and one interpretation was family. All three meanings fit the LaFesta that the Sons of Italy has put on for the last 14 years.
The first meaning The Feast is obvious the moment you walk onto the site and smell the food. The smell of Italian sauce fills the air as you walk by the pasta stand. There you can find a variety of Italian pasta dishes made from old-world recipes. In this same area, you will find their famous meatballs. These too are made from an old recipe handed down generations. As you stroll around the festival, you can find other Italian favorites such as hot sausage and green peppers and meatball sandwiches. There is also American food such as cheese steak sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries and more.
As you continue through the venue, you will find fresh made Italian cookies. You have to be fast at the cookie stand as they typically run out before the event ends.
Other foods include pizza and pizza frete ( fried bread dough with a light coating of sugar )
A favorite festival is their basket stand. The baskets are donated by members, friends of the Sons and their membership. They opened up their event to various vendors, at no charge, a few years ago. Every year they have different vendors who offer a variety of goods and services.
At the Sons, they have a love of live music. This year they will have “Trip the Light” on Friday night. Saturday at 1:00 p.m. they will have the Uptown Music Collective. These young folks are so talented and it’s a joy to watch them perform. At 5:30 p.m. Mike Cashera and “Family Ties” will play a variety of music for your enjoyment. At 9:00 p.m. Tommy D’s house band will close out the day. Sunday at Noon, Gabe Stillman will play. If you have never seen Gabe play, you have to check him out.
The family aspect of their event has to do with their many volunteers and how they work together on not only LaFesta but all of their events, to make everyone feel like family.
This event started 15 years ago just one year after moving into the building at 144 East 4th Street. The first LaFesta years were held at St. Ann’s church in Loyalsock. After a few years there, they outgrew that venue and searched for a venue with more space. The event was then moved to Bowman Field. The events held there were very successful but logistically offered quite a few challenges.
Having to move everything needed from the clubhouse to Bowman and back again was exhausting. In 2016 the club membership purchased the building at 144 E 4th. The building served as the clubhouse for Williamsport chapter of the Sons of Italy from the 40s to the late 60s. When the building became available, the members strongly felt the need to really move back home and buy the building. In 2017 the members felt the need to bring LaFesta back home, where it belongs, at the clubhouse. This event would not have been possible without help from Lycoming College. They opened up their parking lots and their maintenance shop to help us hold this event. Lycoming College is a great neighbor. The City of Williamsport was also an integral part of their success. Allowing them to close the streets around the event and providing them with necessary street closure barricades to keep the patrons safe. 2017 LaFesta, back home, was a huge success. Attendance was so good for the two-day event in 2017 they decided to extend it to three days this year.
Please stop by this year’s LaFesta. Sons President, Steve Noviello says, “It promises to be our best event ever.”