Country Superstar Phil Vassar to Headline Festa Italiana Sunday, July 22!

Festa celebrates its 35th anniversary with new attractions, exciting entertainment, delicious food, Italian history and family-filled events

Phil Vassar will headline Festa Italiana Sunday, July 22 at 8:30 p.m. on the Spiked Island stage.
Phil Vassar will headline Festa Italiana Sunday, July 22 at 8:30 p.m. on the Spiked Island stage.
  • Phil Vassar will headline Festa Italiana Sunday, July 22 at 8:30 p.m. on the Spiked Island stage.
    Phil Vassar will headline Festa Italiana Sunday, July 22 at 8:30 p.m. on the Spiked Island stage.
    Phil Vassar will headline Festa Italiana Sunday, July 22 at 8:30 p.m. on the Spiked Island stage.
    Phil Vassar will headline Festa Italiana Sunday, July 22 at 8:30 p.m. on the Spiked Island stage.
  • Vassar will be performing at the Spiked Island Adult Lemonade Launch Party! All night bottles of Spiked Island lemonade will be $3.00.
    Vassar will be performing at the Spiked Island Adult Lemonade Launch Party! All night bottles of Spiked Island lemonade will be $3.00.
    Vassar will be performing at the Spiked Island Adult Lemonade Launch Party! All night bottles of Spiked Island lemonade will be $3.00.
    Vassar will be performing at the Spiked Island Adult Lemonade Launch Party! All night bottles of Spiked Island lemonade will be $3.00.
  • Rossella Rago, host of "Cooking with Nonna," will cook up traditional Italian fare in the Cucina Showcase!
    Rossella Rago, host of "Cooking with Nonna," will cook up traditional Italian fare in the Cucina Showcase!
    Rossella Rago, host of "Cooking with Nonna," will cook up traditional Italian fare in the Cucina Showcase!
    Rossella Rago, host of "Cooking with Nonna," will cook up traditional Italian fare in the Cucina Showcase!
  • The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's, known as "America's favorite little big band" will get audiences out of their seats and on their feet with their mix of Dixieland, big-band music and original dance tunes.
    The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's, known as "America's favorite little big band" will get audiences out of their seats and on their feet with their mix of Dixieland, big-band music and original dance tunes.
    The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's, known as "America's favorite little big band" will get audiences out of their seats and on their feet with their mix of Dixieland, big-band music and original dance tunes.
    The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's, known as "America's favorite little big band" will get audiences out of their seats and on their feet with their mix of Dixieland, big-band music and original dance tunes.
  • Children and families can enjoy the best fireworks on the Lakefront every night of Festa at 10:15 p.m.! Don't miss "Abbondanza in the Sky" on Friday, July 20 celebrating the Bartolotta fireworks.
    Children and families can enjoy the best fireworks on the Lakefront every night of Festa at 10:15 p.m.! Don't miss "Abbondanza in the Sky" on Friday, July 20 celebrating the Bartolotta fireworks.
    Children and families can enjoy the best fireworks on the Lakefront every night of Festa at 10:15 p.m.! Don't miss "Abbondanza in the Sky" on Friday, July 20 celebrating the Bartolotta fireworks.
    Children and families can enjoy the best fireworks on the Lakefront every night of Festa at 10:15 p.m.! Don't miss "Abbondanza in the Sky" on Friday, July 20 celebrating the Bartolotta fireworks.
  • One gondola wasn't enough.Festa now has two gondolas so even more people can take in Festa from the water's view!
    One gondola wasn't enough.Festa now has two gondolas so even more people can take in Festa from the water's view!
    One gondola wasn't enough.Festa now has two gondolas so even more people can take in Festa from the water's view!
    One gondola wasn't enough.Festa now has two gondolas so even more people can take in Festa from the water's view!
  • Festival goers are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for Hunger Task Force Milwaukee.
    Festival goers are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for Hunger Task Force Milwaukee.
    Festival goers are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for Hunger Task Force Milwaukee.
    Festival goers are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for Hunger Task Force Milwaukee.
  • Gelato and other tasty treats will be available for the sweet tooth!
    Gelato and other tasty treats will be available for the sweet tooth!
    Gelato and other tasty treats will be available for the sweet tooth!
    Gelato and other tasty treats will be available for the sweet tooth!
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 9, 2012… Surrounded by excited fans at Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach, national-leading country recording artist and songwriter, Phil Vassar, announced today that he will be headlining Festa Italiana Sunday, July 22 at the Spiked Island Adult Lemonade Launch Party. The Nashville recording artist and two-time songwriter of the year, also made the announcement live on Milwaukee Country FM 106.1 WMIL earlier today.

Festival goers will not want to miss out on this exclusive concert and adult lemonade launch party event presented by Spiked Island, a new Calypso King Juice Brand. At $3.00 a bottle, concert attendees are invited to “Taste Your Island,” by enjoying an exciting variety of new Spiked Island Adult Lemonade flavors while taking in the sounds of the chart-topping country crooner.

“Often labeled the ‘Piano Man of Country Music,’ Vassar has become known for his rhythm and blues-infused, infectiously buoyant brand of music. As a vocalist he has charted nineteen singles including two Number Ones on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. His energetic and original performance will be one to remember at Festa,” said Dave Spano, president of Festa Italiana.

The fun kicks off on the Spiked Island Stage with opening act, Old Dominion, at 7:30 p.m. followed by Vassar’s performance at 8:30 p.m. There is no additional charge for Vassar’s performance. With the purchase of one general admission ticket, festival-goers will be able to experience Old Dominion and Vassar live in concert as well as partake in all the food, fun and sounds of Festa! Tickets can be purchased at www.festaitaliana.com.

Festa Italiana runs Thursday, July 19 through Sunday, July 22 at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. This year as Festa celebrates its 35th anniversary, attendees can look forward to even more new attractions, exciting entertainment, delicious food and fun events.

A Variety of World-Class Music Acts

In addition to Phil Vassar, audiences can experience a wide range of music acts and performers at Festa Italiana this year. The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s, known as “America’s favorite little big band” will get audiences out of their seats and on their feet with their mix of Dixieland, big-band music and original dance tunes. Chicago-bred, powerhouse rock and roll band, Ides of March, will be performing hits including “The Search is Over,” “L.A. Goodbye” and “Eye of the Tiger.” Festival attendees in the mood for swing should take in the Louis Prima Jr. Band making their debut at Festa. Also performing is, Sam Llanas, one of the founding members of the BoDeans, as well as an accomplished singer, songwriter and acoustic guitarist.

A talented crop of up-and-coming artists is sure to wow audiences including Michael Castaldo, an Italian-born Canadian who is trained in opera and performs his own blend of classical crossover pop; Iliana Incandela, a Chicago-based, talented singer and songwriter of pop, hip hop and R&B music; Alfio, who will remind fans of a young “Dean Martin” as well as rising singer/songwriter/guitarist and recording artist, Charissa Mrowka, who is hailed to be the next “Taylor Swift.”

To add to the excitement – Festa is bringing magic to its entertainment line-up this year! Guinness World Champion Escapologist, Mario Manzini, will perform an awe-inspiring Houdini Tribute Act on the Briggs Brothers Stage at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Popular returning music acts include ABBA Arrival from Sweden, one of the biggest hits at Festa 2011, Dick Contino, The Bronx Wanderers, Tony Spavone, Frank Tenaglia, Christopher Macchio, John Ciotta and the Russo Brothers.

And back for its seventh year is the annual Italian Idol Karaoke Contest, revamped and returning for all four nights! Relocated to the Cucina Showcase, Idol will encompass a nigh-club atmosphere, complete with singing and dancing all night long. Contestants will compete Thursday – Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Do you think you have what it takes to be the next Italian Idol?

A Taste for Italian

The food at Festa Italiana needs no introduction—it’s an attraction all its own! Festa will offer many mouthwatering favorites including pizza, Italian sausage, fried zucchini, chicken spiedini, eggplant, lasagna, pasta, panini and sfinciuni.  And we can’t forget about dessert!  Lemon Genovese, fresh gelato, chocolate covered strawberry and cinnamon roasted almonds are sure to please the sweet tooth.

Every day of Festa, Southeastern Wisconsin’s best chefs will demonstrate how to cook their favorite Italian recipes – and provide free samples in the Piggly Wiggly Cucina Showcase. Local chefs participating in this year’s cucina are from many of the area’s finest restaurants including LaReve Patisserie & Café, Ryan Braun’s Graffito, The Pfister Hotel, Mozzaluna, Bravo Cucina Italiana, Carmella’s, Venice Club, Buca Di Beppo, Wild Earth – Potawatomi Bingo and Casino, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Ristorante Bartolotta, Mia Famiglia Italian Ristorante & Steak House, Tripoli Country Club and Zin - Uncommon California Italian.

Making her first ever appearance at Festa, celebrity chef Rossella Rago, host of “Cooking with Nonna” will showcase her culinary skills Saturday, July 21 at 6:45 p.m. and Sunday, July 22 at 4:15 p.m at the Cucina Showcase. Inspired by her love of food, her passion for entertaining, as well as her appreciation for her family and the Italian community, Rossella launched the “Cooking with Nonna” show in 2009. Rossella will feature recipes passed down throughout the generations that are simple to make, delicious and rich in their history. Also, don’t miss Rago cooking on stage Saturday, July 21 with a local nonna!

Back by popular demand to the Cucina Showcase is culinary inspiration Nick Stellino on Saturday, July 21 at 4:00 p.m. presented by DaVinci and Sunday, July 22 at 6:30 p.m. presented by Electrolux. Originally from Sicily, Stellino’s latest cookbook, Cooking with Friends, currently airs on Public Television. He has apprenticed with the best Italian chefs in America and hosted many successful television shows including: Nick Stellino Cooking with Friends, Cucina Amore I, II and II, and Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen

It wouldn’t be Festa without cannoli – and lots of it! Visit the Cucina Showcase Saturday, July 21 at 3:00 p.m. to witness the 35th Anniversary Cannoli Eating Contest.

In addition to an already delicious food lineup featuring Milwaukee-area favorites, new food vendors to watch for at Festa are Trattoria di Carlo and Major Goolsby’s

Everyone knows Italian food is meant to be enjoyed with a little vino! New this year, LoDuca Brother’s Wine is offering wine tastings featuring some of the most famous and expensive wines of Italy and Napa in the hospitality area of the Briggs Big Backyard Stage. Wine flights will be offered from the famous IndyCar driver Mario Andretti’s Napa Valley vineyard by certified sommelier and former Andretti general manager, Frank Mirenda. Also appearing is famous Italian sommelier, Eleonora Baralli, from the Piedmont region of Italy. LoDuca Brother’s will provide wine tastings as well as education on an extensive list of wines from Italy twice on Friday, July 20, three times on Saturday, July 21 and twice on Sunday, July 22. Each tasting is $20 per person.

Affordable, Family Fun!

For 35 years, Festa has been known for its attractions and activities that the whole famiglia can enjoy. There are numerous, affordable activities planned for this year’s festival that are sure to please the entire family:
  • Children ages 12 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult during the entire four-day festival.
  • A new, free “Kids Zone” at the South end to entertain both the young and young at heart.
  • The Pinocchio Parade, sponsored by Bartolotta, will wind its way through the grounds at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s parade will be dedicated to Mayor Henry W. Maier. The parade will include and celebrate all participating ethnic festivals as part of the Untied Ethnic Festivals organization, as well as city officials, marching bands and dignitaries.
  • BP Team U.S.A Experience. New this year, the BP Team U.S.A. Experience will give festival goers and inside look into the Olympic experience. U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Athlete Ambassadors will guide attendees through the interactive station featuring a starting block sprint area, wheel chair drag racing, BP sports lab, lung capacity test, heart rate test, BP Olympic trials and four hands-on gaming stations.
  • Kid’s Pizza Making Contest sponsored by Duo Sorelli for children ages 4- 9 and ages 10-16.  Contestants can enter the contest until Sunday at 2:00 p.m.  Winners will be announced at 2:45 p.m.
  • LEGO activities tent.
  • Children’s Stage. Daily entertainment will be provided at the Children’s Stage for kids of all ages to enjoy.
  • A huge attraction in 2011, the Gondola rides have returned with a second gondola! Now even
    more festival-goers can take in the sights and sounds of Festa from the water’s view
  • Children and families can enjoy the best fireworks on the Lakefront every night of Festa at 10:15 p.m.!  Back this year is Abbondanza in the Sky on Friday, July 20 celebrating the Bartolotta fireworks. 
  • And of course, the traditional Italian game of Bocce Ball will return daily sponsored by Catholic Financial Life. Those with a competitive edge are invited to participate in the highly anticipated Bocce Ball Tournament on Sunday, July 22!

Celebrating Italian Culture

The traditional Festa Italiana Sunday Mass and Procession will be led by Father John M. Belmonte, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Joliet at 11:00 a.m. Sunday, July 22 at the Marcus Amphitheater. Admission is free until 11:15 a.m. at the South Entrance only for those who attend the Sunday Mass. 

Festival goers attending Sunday Mass are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to the South Gate to support Hunger Task Force. Volunteers for the organization will be collecting the food donations at the entrance to Mass. The goal is to raise over 10,000 pounds of food this year at Festa to be distributed locally to food pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. All deliveries will be made free of charge.

For those who love history, Festa has several cultural collections available for learning about the Italian community’s presence in Milwaukee. For the first time, the Milwaukee County Historical Society will present its latest exhibit at Festa, “FAITH FAMILY FESTA.” The exhibit offers a rare opportunity to learn about the traditions, triumphs and hardships of immigrant life for Milwaukee’s Italian community. The largest Italian vintage photo display in the country – a collection of over 1,000 photos representing Italians in Milwaukee – will also be displayed in the cultural tent along with religious church artifacts from as early as 1880.

Italy’s culture will come alive in the Cinema Tent with an Italian Film Series featuring famous titles including Roma, Noi Credevamo and Scialla! New this year, movie buffs will enjoy putting their knowledge to the test in the “Guess Who’s Italian” film contest. The contest will feature a series of movie stars with non-Italian names, challenging participants to “Guess Who’s Italian.” Each day a new round will begin and winners will be chosen nightly to win cash prizes!

Wheels and Heels Rush on Festa

For runners and walkers – the annual 25th Wheels & Heels Rush on Festa benefiting the National Spinal Cord Association – Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter - is back!  The 5K run, one mile walk, begins at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 19. To register as an individual, family or corporate team, visit
the Festa Italiana website. All participants will receive free admission into Festa that evening by wearing their race t-shirt.

Daily Deals

Festa Italiana offers plenty of ways to visit the festival for free! Purchase your tickets today at www.festaitaliana.com or through the Italian Community Center at 631 E. Chicago Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202 at 414-223-2808. 

• Admission tickets are $13.00 at the gate and children ages 12 and under are admitted free for all four days when accompanied by an adult.

• In celebration of Festa’s 35th anniversary, those adults 35 years of age receive free admission Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at gate with a valid ID.

• Purchase ONE (1) 12-pack or TWO (2) 6-packs of Peroni and receive a ticket good for ONE (1) FREE admission to Festa Italiana July 19-22. Offer valid June 1 – July 22, 2012, or while supplies last. Tickets redeemable at the Mid-Gate Entrance.

• Present an Active Military ID at the information booth for free admission passes to the Harley Davidson Museum.

Thursday Deals

• New this year, Festa Italiana will run Thursday, July 19 from 5:00 p.m. – midnight.

• 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. bring your Piggly Wiggly Preferred Card to the Mid-Gate Entrance for FREE admission.

Friday Deals

• 11:30 a.m. – Midnight.

• 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. is VIP Day for those with physical challenges along with their caregivers. Receive free admission and half-priced on selected food items and soda. Sponsored by Goodwill and Summerfest.

• 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Free admission for everyone! Compliments of the Italian Conference Center and Café La Scala.

• 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. bring your Piggly Wiggly Preferred Card to the Mid-Gate Entrance for $6.00 admission.

Saturday Deals

• 11:30 a.m. – Midnight.

Sunday Deals

• 11:30 a.m. – Midnight.

• 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Free admission to Festa when you attend High Mass at 11:00 a.m. in the Marcus Amphitheater. South Entrance Only. Pleaes bring nonperishable food items for Hunger Task Force Milwaukee.

And don’t miss Festa’s first ever “50/50 Cash Raffle! The prize winner will collect 50% of the raffle’s gross revenue raised based on the number of tickets sold. The cost of one raffle ticket is $10 and can be purchased at the Italian Community Center or online at www.festaitaliana.com. With your support, this could be Festa’s most successful fundraiser yet!

For more information on the festival, please visit www.FestaItaliana.com or call 414-223-2808. 
   
About Festa Italiana

Festa Italiana takes place at Henry W. Maier Festival Park (Summerfest grounds) on Milwaukee’s lakefront.  The festival runs Thursday, July 19 to Sunday, July 22.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Festa Italiana is the largest Italian event of its kind in America today.  The Festival began in 1978 for the purpose of reuniting an Italian community torn apart by urban renewal projects and was the first ethnic festival in Milwaukee. Today, several ethic festivals are celebrated on Milwaukee’s lakefront and the city is now widely known as the City of Festivals.  Through the dedication of more than 2,000 volunteers, the annual Festa Italiana has become a favorite family event to Milwaukee and surrounding areas.  This year, Festa will feature even more new attractions, exciting entertainment, delicious food, Italian history and family-filled events as it celebrates its 35th anniversary.

Please follow Festa Italiana on Twitter @FestaMKE and become a fan of Festa Italiana on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/festaitalianamilwaukee.  For more information on the festival, please visit www.FestaItaliana.com or call 414-223-2808. 

Festa Italiana is sponsored in part by MillerCoors, Spiked Island, BP Team U.S.A. Experience, Potawatomi Bingo Casino, International Autos Group, LoDuca Bros., Inc., Piggly Wiggly, Major Goolsby’s, Pyramax Bank, Catholic Financial Life, The Bartolotta Restaurant Group, Red Gold, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Oldies 95.7. 

                                                                                #        #       #