On October 3, 2010, the 7th Annual Italian Heritage Festival of Gloucester County took place at RiverWinds Amphitheater in West Deptford, New Jersey. This celebration of Italian food, music, dance and culture was fairly well-attended despite the unfavorable weather conditions and cloudy skies. The Gloucester County Italian Heritage Commission sponsors this annual event, which moved to the RiverWinds Amphitheater in 2009.
Live entertainment graced the amphitheater stage from noon until the end of the show at 6:00 p.m. Some of the featured performers were the wonderful Italian tenor John Carelli and the entertaining Abruzzi Folk Group DisCanto. The Vivaci Dancers illustrated traditional dances and music from various regions of Italy, inviting and inspiring many in the audience to get to their feet and join the celebration. Philadelphia’s Italian Bagpipers, “Zampognari di Filadelfia,” also performed for the crowd.
Crafters and artisans of various kinds had unique items on display, although the strong winds made it difficult for some to protect their work from the elements. Traditional paper crafts, photography art, jewelry and more could be found on the vendors tables. Local podiastrist (and passionate artist) Dr. David Carrozzino gave oil painting demonstrations in the classical Renaissance style throughout the afternoon. Local Italian organizations such as the Sons of Italy had tables set up to meet and share information with attendees. There was also a puppet show for children, face painting, and other activities for the entire family to enjoy.
Of course, many came to the festival particularly to sample the wonderful food! Lots of Italian specialties were available to sample, and few were in higher demand than the succulent roast pig or “porchetta” sandwiches. Served optionally with broccoli rabe and provelone cheese, the porchetta was outrageously succulent and delicious. Also available were meatball subs, sausage and peppers, fried rice balls, Italian soups, pizza and hoagies. For the dessert lovers, Gianino’s Pastries could barely keep up with the stream of customers for their cannolis, cookies, tiramisu cakes and other delights. As the weather began to turn colder around 3:00 pm, the most in-demand item was hot coffee which was hard to find except from one vendor who constantly was having to keep the brew pot going.
Sadly, the cold wind and the light drizzle of rain began to chase many visitors to the festival away early. Many of the craft vendors began packing up by 4:00 pm as the crowds were thinning out and sales slowing down. Hopefully next year the Italian Heritage Festival of Gloucester County will be met with better weather conditions and more people will come out to enjoy the wonderful food, arts and entertainment.
* 7th Annual Italian Heritage Festival of Gloucester County – Phillyfunguide.com
* Personal experience