by Megan McGory
The 14th “Taste of Italy,” sponsored by the Italian Heritage and Cultural Committee of Norwich, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park on the waterfront in Norwich.
Every year since 1991, the crowds have continued to grow, according to Frank DeMicco, vice president of the Italian Heritage and Cultural Committee. “A couple years ago, UCONN did a head count as an independent study and it came out to about 15,000 people. I can tell by the crowds that they’re growing, and I’d estimate that about 17,000 attended last year. Everyone looks forward to it.”
Every year, the festival is held due to popular demand, and it’s easy to see why. Everything is free except for the food and beverages, and with 21 food vendors, there is a lot of different food to choose from. “The food is only Italian food, and no one is allowed to duplicate,” Frank said. “That means there is only one lasagna booth, and the price of the food ranges from $1-$4.”
Besides food, there is something for everyone. There is a moon bounce for children, and free pontoon boat rides around the harbor.
Two bands, the local musicians in the Silver Coronet Band and the Sound Attraction Band will perform in a concert while the strolling musicians, the Vesuvians, provide additional Italian music. Tater the Gater, the mascot of the Norwich Navigators baseball team, will be present as well.
An art exhibit is on loan from the Slater Museum at the Norwich Free Academy, and will be housed in a tent during the day.
Spectacular fireworks round off the event at 9 p.m. over the harbor.
This year’s festival is free of admission, with free parking in the three nearby parking garages. “Parking in the garages is free all day, with no time limit,” Frank said. One of the parking garages is a part of the Mercantile Exchange, owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.