Scheduled for May 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on India Street in Little Italy, this colorful annual event welcomes thousands of Sicily’s natives and fans.
“There’s always a fascination with cultural events [around San Diego],” said Giovanna DiBona, festival public relations chair and Roman Holiday Ensemble lead vocalist.
For Italian natives who make up Little Italy’s downtown district, it is all about community.
“This is more of a community outreach than a money-maker because we get strong crowds, even those from out of town,” DiBona said.
The event, put together by volunteers, continues to grow with local and international entertainment, cultural craft fairs and children’s activities.
This year’s festival is expected to be bigger and better than ever, particularly thanks to Italy’s win during the 2006 World Cup Championship. Puma and Soccer Fanatic are bringing the Puma World Cup Soccer Fan Zone to the festival on Beech and India Street, which DiBona expects will bring out many “futbol” fans. The streets will be filled with large television screens re-living Italy’s Azzuri team win, along with face painting, contests and cutouts of international players — perfect for pictures.
Traditional Sicilian finds will fill the street, like at the cultural pavilion with Sicilian puppets both on display and performing, Madonnari Street painting and more. World famous Sicilian musicians are set to entertain, including accordionist Dick Contino and the Roman Holiday Ensemble.
This year’s Sicilian flag procession and parade will be led by County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who is part Sicilian.
Joe Busalacchi, San Diego’s restaurateur who owns several staples in Little Italy, will be offering traditional Sicilian dishes that you “don’t really find anywhere else,” DiBona said.
From anancini di riso (fried rice balls stuffed with cheese and meat) to fresh tuna (an industry that brought the Sicilians to San Diego in the 1920s); the event truly celebrates traditional Sicilian cuisine.