stark county italian american festival canton

33.) Italian-American Festival – Canton – July 9, 2011

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: In 2016, the festival moved its location to downtown Canton. Admission is also free (but it’s possible that there are no longer rides).

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Being of Italian descent, speaking Italian (quella di Dante, non quella di “Goodfellas”) and having lived in Italy, I appreciate a good Italian-American festival from time to time. In fact, at the moment I’m writing this, I’ve been to some nice Italian festivals in Columbus, Akron, and, of course, Cleveland.

So, this year, on the same weekend of nearby Akron’s Italian American festival…

…Julia and I decided to check out how they do things in Canton.

Celebrating it’s 25th year, the Italian-American Festival had many things you hoped for in an Italian festival, including…


…a great number of Italian lunch and dinner options…

…where we got eggplant sandwiches (I got mine with olio/aglio sauce)…

…gelato…

…biscotti and pizzelle from St. Anthony’s

…(Italian) souvenirs…

…and (American) beer.

(Hey! The Clydesdales were there! Don’t you think they’d get ticked if they poured Peroni?)

The festival was also able to go beyond expectations with its space and structures…
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…offering three stages with great entertainment…

…including that of the Italian variety…

…and even holding a bocce ball tournament…

…where the shots were done with ease…

…and the scoring was done with measuring tape.

There was also enough room for a cornhole tournament…

…a casino…


…and even a calliope.

After dancing a bit to the calliope music, Julia and I found ourselves a little beaten from the summer sun…

…so we followed this sign…

…and took refuge in the air-conditioned Il Mercato.

Here, we found everything from hand-carved shotguns and cute bears…

…to animal canes…

…many more Italian souvenirs…

…(including one that gave Julia second thoughts)…

…and even a surprise reunion with a festival friend.

It was also where we entered our admission ticket for the $2500 raffle…

This brings me to my final topic…the admission.
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Just up the road, the Akron festival is free.

Free!
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This was honestly part of the reason that I didn’t attend last year.

But, as I’ve come to realize this year, there are a few reasons why the $5 admission is a good thing:

  1. The proceeds are used to create scholarships for Italian-Americans (like me!).
  2. You can enter yourself for a chance to win the $2500 grand prize (as previously mentioned).
  3. All rides are free.

That’s right…

Free!

Beyond the games and various fair foods…

…there were rides…

…upon rides…

…upon rides.

And even in the hot summer sun, there were people riding them.

And why wouldn’t they be?

For the first time, I came across a festival that didn’t sell tickets per ride/per person. Instead, they charged an amount that many festivals use for parking.

And once that fee was paid, families could spend the entire day going on ride after ride and enjoy themselves with their family.

And that, my friends, is wonderfully Italian.

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