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Devoted attendees of the Italian Festival of Angels hosted by the North Havens Sons & Daughters of Italy Lodge #2805 will find much of the same activities and entertainment at this year's festival, which will be held on Friday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug. 27 to celebrate Italian culture.
But one difference is where they will find the festival, now in its seventh year. After holding the event at the North Haven Town Green, festival organizers moved the event to St. Therese Church at 555 Middletown Avenue in North Haven. The festival runs from 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Festival Director Len Ricciardelli said the change of venue was made to give the festival more room and more usable space. The church site is "a more rural area. It's flat and larger," said Ricciardelli, explaining that it's a space on which it's much easier to construct the festival.
Also for the first time, the festival will seek a $1 donation for admission into the event. Ricciardelli said one reason for the donation is to help organizers get a more accurate headcount of the number of festival-goers. He added that North Haven firefighters will park cars for the festival and raise funds for the fire convention they will host next year.
Once festival visitors park their cars, they can enjoy a variety of entertainment options. Ricciardelli said Rich DePalma will be the main entertainer on Friday night. Mario Ciccone and Vision perform on Saturday night.
The festival will also include an Italian talent contest in which local residents can showcase their various talents, from singing to dancing. There will also be an Italian culture tent, which has evolved over the years and contains various displays. This year, there will be a military exhibit that will showcase members of the military who have connections to the lodge members.
The North Haven Historical Society will also have a display that contains artifacts of local farmers who were of Italian descent. Italian food will also be part of the festival, with offerings from sausage and peppers to Italian ice and cookies.
Coffee sales will be donated to Holy Joe's Café, a program that provides coffee to chaplains who assist armed service members abroad. Festival attendees can drop off bags of coffee and cash donations.
A display of Pepe's Pizza memorabilia, as well as a pizza toss display, are also planned.
Ricciardelli said a Catholic Mass will be held on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 5:30 p.m., which will be followed by a Procession of Angels. Children, and even adults, who want to participate should plan to attend the Mass, said Ricciardelli.
Ricciardelli said that planning and hosting the festival each year is a collaborative effort among the lodge's members. He said about six or seven members help with event planning, while about 90 to 100 members volunteer during the two-day event. Ricciardelli has been the festival director since the event began.
"I like what I do and it's fun," said Ricciardelli. "A lot of the people who are still helping have been with me for seven years."