The Mercer County Italian American Festival is celebrating its 20th Anniversary, September 27 to 29 and is pulling out all the stops with a full lineup of entertainment, food and attractions. It was started in 2000 by festival association president, Cav. John Scarpati, in direct response to what he felt was the diminishing presence of the Italian American culture with which he grew up. One day, after mentioning his concern, his friends challenged him to do something about it. The festival was his answer.
“I usually don’t back down from a challenge,” said Mr. Scarpati. “And I didn’t with this one. I knew nothing about putting on a festival, so I traveled around the country to the biggest Italian American festivals, gathered my notes, put together a committee and spent almost two years planning the first festival in 2000. And now, 20 years later, we have put together the greatest festival yet.”
With Entertainment Legend Bobby Rydell headlining on Saturday, September 28, Number One Elvis Tribute Act, Doug Church headlining on Friday, September 27 and member of the Original Blues Brothers Band, Rob Paparozzi, headlining on Sunday, September 29, the Festival features three full days of live entertainment. The Festival Fireworks Spectacular takes place Saturday following Bobby Rydell’s performance. Along with entertainment, the festival features a food piazza with restaurants, bakeries, food trucks, beer and wine and an Italian Market. There will be a heritage pavilion with cultural displays, a working near-life size replica of the famous Trevi Fountain and cultural presentations throughout the weekend. Activities include bocce; more than 20 amusement rides with a special area for small children; a World War II military tribute; an Italian car show on Saturday and Mass on Sunday. “But most of all,” said Mr. Scarpati, “the festival is a place for friends and family to meet, enjoy some good food and spend some quality time together.”
The 20th Anniversary of the Mercer County Italian American Festival will take place at Mercer County Park in West Windsor, New Jersey. The festival is open from 3:00pm to 11:00pm on Friday; noon to 11:00pm on Saturday and noon to 9:30pm on Sunday. Mass is at 11:00am on Sunday with free admission for those attending. Admission to the festival is only $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, 65 and older and FREE for children 12 and younger. Mercer County Park charges $5 for parking. Complete details and schedules can be found at www.ItalianAmericanFestival.com. Contact the Mercer County Italian American Festival Association at 609-631-7544 or visit the Festival Facebook page for the latest news.