Italian festival planned for Fountain Inn, Bridgeway Station > GSA Business

It’s hard to get a group of Italians to agree on anything, says Chuck Ferraro, co-chair of the ITalo-American Club of Greater Greenvilleevent planning committee.

He examined the tables of talkative stragglers left from a monthly lunch at Bertolo’s pizza on Pelham Road.

“We need a megaphone,” Ferraro said. “They all want to talk. They all want their ideas to be taken into account.

Club President John Macioce and Chuck Ferraro discuss plans with Phil Hughes after the event.  (Photo/Molly Hulsey)That’s about 180 different opinions, 40 new voices since last year.

But there is at least one thing the club has agreed on: an inaugural Italian-American festival, held at the Fountain Inn Depot on April 30.

Plans underway this year include up to 30 Italian food and craft vendors, a bocce court and children’s activities such as an obstacle course, cartoon drawing and face painting.

Live performances are expected to include an opera singer and a choir from the new Fountain Inn High School, among other musicians. And of course, Ferraro added, the club will serve Italian wines and beers.

The festival now has the support of Phil Hughes of Hughes Investments, thanks to a $5,000 grant awarded at the Ten at the Top’s Celebrating Successes event late last year.

The club had participated in 19 aspiring events across the upstate, and after marching to the top ten in November in a cavalcade of fedoras, Christopher Columbesque pants and cannoli for the judges, the Italians were tied with the City of Belton for the award. .

The Hughes Investment Elevate Upstate Grant will account for approximately one-third of the event’s $15,000 budget for the first year. Other sponsors also threw their hats into the ring, with Gio’s Pastry at Fountain Inn serving as the main supporter of the event.

It was Maria Natale, owner of the Italian market and bakery, who came up with the idea of ​​hosting the festival at Fountain Inn.

“Obviously, we’re all very proud to be Italian-Americans. Several people came from Italy today, young people, old people,” said Ferrero, along with other club members separated by two or three generations from the old country, like him. But, “the longer they are in America…with each generation, it goes away.”

The festival is expected to move to new locations each year, including Mauldin's Bridgeway station once open.  (Rendered/Provided)One of the festival’s driving forces is the desire to captivate the next generation, whether they have Latin heritage or are simply interested. Later, the club hopes to use the proceeds to provide scholarships for Italian-American students.

Club chairman John Macioce said he believed the Italian festival was the only one upstate, with the next closest being at Hilton Head. Once the festival gets underway, the planning committee can take it on the road to various upstate locations each year.

Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts has already made a request, and once Phil Hughes’ reimagined Italian Village, Bridgeway Stationis built, the developer wants to be next in line for the event.

“He wants us there,” said Macioce, who works as a realtor at Joy Real Estate. “This whole Bridgeway station is going to look like Vatican Square.”

With fundraisers and proceeds from the festival, the club hopes to expand the festivities to perhaps two days, a weekend, or perhaps, one day, something closer to the scale of the Scottish Games or of the Greenville Greek Festival which each draw hundreds of vendors and guests to upstate. year.

“If you have a vision and you don’t have a plan, it’s just a dream,” Ferraro said.

Contact Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.

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