You didn’t have to be Italian to enjoy Festa Italiana di Vandergrift
Italian music played through the speakers, Italian flags waved in the winds and the smell of meatballs and pizza wafted through the air Sunday in Vandergrift for the 16th annual Festa Italiana di Vandergrift.
The event was in Kennedy Park, where nearly 20 vendors served food, drinks and other treats.
The festival is put on each year by the Putignano family to honor their father, Vince Putignano, who always wanted to have an Italian festival in Vandergrift. The event awards two $2,000 Vince Putignano Memorial Scholarships to students of Italian descent who are recent high school graduates.
“It all started because my grandfather came over from Italy and settled in Vandergrift,” said Brian Putignano, Vince’s son and festival president. “A lot of people emigrated from Italy and settled in Vandergrift, especially families that knew each other in Italy. They came to Vandergrift and started this town.”
The sunny weather was on their side Sunday as temperatures remained mild and warm with no rain in sight.
“A beautiful day does definitely help us,” Putignano said.
Gina Scott Sipos came all the way from Florida to celebrate the festival and her 50th class reunion with her cousins Vickie McManus Evans and Loyal “Bud” White, both of Vandergrift. They all graduated from Kiski Area High School in 1969.
The trio enjoyed sausage sandwiches at the festival. It was the first time they had all been together in a long time to celebrate something fun.
“This is a very special time for us,” McManus Evans said.
Jennifer Erdos came with her husband and her daughter. She helped her daughter, Mila Garofalo, 6, make a macaroni necklace at the craft table.
“My husband’s 100% Italian,” she said. “He likes to come and celebrate his heritage.”
David Spillers, owner of Tommy’s Catering, said the polenta and fettuccine alfredo were big sellers.
“Today’s a great day,” he said. “It’s probably the biggest event in Vandergrift.”
Madeline Breznican, 93, has lived in the Vandergrift area her whole life and likes to come to the festival every year.
“I like the wedding soup,” she said.
She was there with her niece, JoAnne Moyer, to take in the music and entertainment. They also took part in the early morning outdoor Mass.
“It brings back memories of when you were a little child,” Moyer said. “More communities should have this.”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .