Italian Festival fills Winter Park weekend |

Italian Festival fills Winter Park weekend

by Cyndi PalmerSky-Hi Daily News

Tis the beautiful life for the Fraser Valley as La Vita e Bella Italian Festival rolls into Grand County with special performances throughout the weekend. The three-day festival celebrates all things Italian with merchandise, food vendors, artisans, wine tasting, bocc ball demo, games and kids activities, Italian language instruction and live entertainment to include performers from the authentic Zopp Italian Theatrical Family Circus.Founded by Napoline and Ermenegilda Zopp in 1842, the Circo Zopp near Venice, Italy and their vision lives on as Zopp, a traditional one-ring European circus. Festival goers are invited to join the Zopp family on their journey to an enchanted, thrilling world far from our digital age to a world of acrobatics, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, clowns and lots of audience participation. Animal lovers may also enjoy seeing the Zopp Circus two horses, one miniature horse, and 12 dogs that will be coming along for the show.Circus performances are at 2:30 and 6 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday; and at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Entry to the circus performances are $15 adult general admission, $5 for kids six to 12 years, and five and under are admitted free. Locals are admitted free (through required reservations at the chamber) during Friday nights performance.Two stages will be going all weekend with great Italian music July 11. The Rich Italiano Quintet will be a featured performance 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, with musician Russ Canino performing at the festival 5 to 6:30 p.m. (and 11 a.m. to noon Saturday). The quintet consists of Manhattan Swing Band co-owner Rich Italiano, Jack LaForte (tenor sax), and a rhythm section.Additional performances include those from the J. Gerardi and Friends five-piece Italian Combo (12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday), Sal Martorano & Swing Shift (1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday), The Four Amicis (12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday), the Charlie Provenza Duo (6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to noon Sunday), and more.Martorano (sax, clarinet and vocals) and Swing Shift (Tom Severino on bass, Dave Menapace on trumpet, Rob Tate on keyboard and vocals, and Ted Worth on drums) are picking out their best songs of about 300 in their repertoire, and might try out a couple new ones at the festival.J.L. Gerardi leads the five piece Italian Combo and plays trombone and sings vocals. They are known for their authentic Italian-style of Napolitana Nostalgia. Other members of the combo are Terry Norona (keyboard (includes bass) and vocals), Jack Fredrickson (clarinet and saxophone), Charlie Provenza (mandolin), and Del Brickley (drums). The band might have dancers come up as well and hopes theyll demonstrate a Calebrese Tarantella.The Four Amicis, of which there are now five members, includes Maggie Holloway on keys, Annette Wright on violin and mandolin, Rory Turra and business manager Mark Giarratano on vocals, and newest member Jairo Barsallo on drums, accordion and bass.The event will also have a display of an Automezzi winners circle exhibit celebrating Italian motoring, and world champion pizza toss artist and acrobat Jay Sherman. Tickets are available at Tickets West (800-464-2626) or, by contacting Central Reservations (800-977-6198), or at the chamber office (800-903-7275).