Washington Italian Festival

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Adam Brock & Allegro are scheduled to perform at the Washington Italian Festival
Adam Brock & Allegro are scheduled to perform at the Washington Italian Festival
Photo credit: Washington Italian Festival

The Washington Italian Festival celebrates Italian heritage in Washington, PA this month with food, entertainment, children’s activities and Italian beverages. Admission is free.

The fifth annual festival happens in downtown Washington on Saturday, September 25, 2021 from Noon to 9:00 PM at the Community Pavilion on South Main Street. A ceremony will honor Italian-American health care workers.

Friday night is a free concert. From 7:00 to 9:00 PM, Nick Fiasco will sing legendary songs of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and other greats. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

The Washington Italian Festival opens at noon on Saturday at the Community Pavilion on South Main Street followed by events every hour.

  • 1:00 PM: Italian American healthcare workers who served on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic will be recognized by PA Senator Camera Bartolotta.
  • 2:00 PM Shana Brown, Main Street Manager of the Washington Business District Authority will talk about supporting small businesses in downtown Washington and share their promotions.
  • 3:00 PM: Chef Will Crowe of Washington, PA-based Kitchen Ronin, a private chef, will provide a cooking demonstration. Tasting samples will be available.
  • 4:00 PM: Two local chefs will hold a ravioli cooking competition judged by celebrities Chris Fennimore from WQED, Sam Hall from WTAE and Katherine Amenta from WPXI. Nate Mass of the Washington PA Food Facebook group will host.
  • 5:00 PM: Allegro Dance Company performs authentic Italian folk dances researched in Italy by Director Anna Pishner Harsh, whose grandparents came to the U.S. in the 1920s from southern Italy. The company shares dances that preserve Italian heritage.
  • 6:00 PM: The Washington Jazz Orchestra is scheduled to play Italian and jazz favorites.
  • 7:00 PM: Washington’s Adam Brock is slated to serenade the crowd with his renditions of classic hits. Brock was a semi-finalist on American Idol and became an internationally known vocalist.

Strolling musicians will perform throughout the day. DJ Jon Ridge will emcee and supply Italian music while people eat and drink.

People can enjoy a variety of Italian foods, as food vendors offer different specialties:

  • Pepperoni rolls & Italian cookies by Chicco Baccello
  • Zitti & meatballs by Julians Catering
  • Italian beef & chicken sandwiches, and ice cream cones by Regional Flavors Catering
  • A meatball sandwich by Rolands Takeout Kitchen
  • Hot sausage sandwiches by Sons and Daughters of Italy
  • Stuffed hot peppers, beans & greens, and a tomato salad by Union Grill
  • Pizza, strombolis and Italian ice by Grande Jr Pizza Express
  • Lasagna and Manicotti by Ala Maria’s

Wine, spirits and beer will be served by bartenders provided by the Olivia Scott Foundation, which awards scholarships and provides assistance to youth in life threatening or changing situations.

  • Peroni – the best selling beer in Italy – is supplied by BDI, which also brings Miller Beer to the festival
  • Rye Sangria is sponsored by Liberty Pole Spirits
  • The festival’s Limoncella Lemonade is sponsored by Red Pump
  • Basil Mojito is sponsored by B&B Spirits
  • Italian Barbera is sponsored by J&D Winery, whose wine list includes a full body dry red Barbera

A bocce tournament is scheduled. People can learn about local Italian clubs and shop for Italian merchandise.

Kids can have their faces painted. Balloon artist Jessica Garda and Clipper the Clown will be on hand. Caricatures will be drawn. Royal Princes Engagements will provide actors to walk around the festival.

People can learn about Italian traditions and oral histories from representatives of the Italian Heritage project at Citizens Library. They’ll bring digital scanners – people of Italian origin can record their histories, and have their historic photos and documents digitized, the Sons and Daughters of Italy Primo Italiano Lodge #2800 wrote in a press release.

Nearly 35,000 people who live in Washington County report they’re of Italian origin. That’s about one in 6 people in the county. The largest wave of Italian immigration happened from the 1880s to 1920, according to the Library of Congress – the same years that the City of Washington grew from 4,300 people to more than 20,000 people. Many of them left Italy because of widespread poverty and little hope of bettering themselves, the Library of Congress wrote. Jobs waited for them here during the Washington Oil Field boom and once that passed, jobs could be mining coal and in glass making.

The Washington Italian Festival is organized by the Sons and Daughters of Italy Primo Italiano Lodge #2800, which promotes Italian social and cultural events, and awards college scholarships to eligible students.

This month, everyone can enjoy a day of Italian heritage at the Washington Italian Festival on September 25. The entertainment at the Community Pavilion is free. Italian food and beverages are waiting to be enjoyed.