It’s September, which means everyone gets to be Italian for a weekend at Belmar’s 13th annual Festival Italiano.
The festival, benefiting Project Angel Heart, is Saturday, Sept. 10, and Sunday, Sept. 11, this year. Events run from 10 a.m. to …
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According to research by Bob Autobee, of the cultural resources firm of Autobee & Autobee in Lakewood, there wasn’t much of an Italian-American presence in Lakewood during the last half of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th century.
Migration of the first and second generations of Denver’s Italian-Americans to Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Lakewood happened in the late 1940s through early 1960s because of new suburban housing options and better schools in Jefferson County.
Some notable Italian-Americans in Lakewood’s past include:
Marion Iacino, who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1901. Iacino opened the Diamond A Market on 15th and Lawrence in Denver, eventually opening the East Jefferson Market at 8125 W. Colfax in 1947. He built a new store at 1530 Carr, which was primarily a wholesale meat market.
Thomas Farnacci opened the Lakewood Grill at 7555 W. Colfax sometime before 1945. He built the current Lakewood Grill, which still operates to this day, at 8100 W. Colfax in 1951.
Dino DiPaolo opened Dino’s at 10040 W. Colfax in 1961, followed by Ramon’s in 1970 and Dino’s Other Place in 1978.
Other established Italian-American business people in Lakewood who are still going strong include Joe Margotte at Chicago Beef and Bob Boffa at Deli Italia at 20th and Wadsworth.
The festival, benefiting Project Angel Heart, is Saturday, Sept. 10, and Sunday, Sept. 11, this year. Events run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the 10th, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 11th, all at Belmar, 464 Teller St.
“The children’s grape-stomping and all the vendors are always visitor favorites, and are back this year,” wrote Vicki Dunbar, Belmar’s marketing coordinator, in an email interview. “We are pleased to announce the return of Derek Evilsizor, who performs Frank Sinatra songs, this year. He is a crowd favorite and should not be missed. Plus, we will have Ferrari and Italian motorcycle displays.”
Last year’s festival brought in more than 110,000 visitors, and with plenty of new features, as well as returning favorites, here’s what you need to know about this year’s festival:
1. Project Angel Heart
Funds from the festival go to support Project Angel Heart, which delivers nutritious food to those dealing with life-threatening illness.
The project was founded in 1991 to address the challenge of getting food to people who cannot physically get to the grocery store, or don’t have money to afford food because of the costs of care.
What started with volunteers taking lasagna to 12 individuals living with HIV/AIDS has grown into a free meal delivery area that encompasses 640 square miles of metro Denver and 164 square miles in the Colorado Springs area.
2. What’s new this year
The wandering street entertainment has been expanded, and there is a new entertainment stage. In addition to Evilsizor, Chicago’s Vince Chiarelli Band will also be performing.
Additional new features include free caricature drawings on the plaza, the Ferrari Club of Denver displaying cars on the south side of Teller Street and Sons of Italy Gruppo Di Motocicletta displaying Italian motorbikes on the north side.
Nine new vendors include Tstreet Roadhouse Belmar, Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant, My Poor Meatball, Racca Pizzeria Napoletana, Sogno Toscano Olive Oil Boutique, Gel Italian Ice, Colorado Firefighter Calendar, Talarico’s Italian Taste and Yaffa’s Savory.
3. What is returning this year
To benefit Project Angel Heart, the popular bag-decorating station is back, as is the Balistreri Vineyards children’s grape stomp.
Visitors can also watch flag-thrower performances from Florence, Italy, scope out the two-day Bocce Tournament, and take Italian lessons from The Italian Institute.
Artists and artisans also will be selling their wares.
4. What you can’t miss
This year, don’t miss the authentic Italian flag-thrower performances, Bocce tournament and the new caricature artists in the plaza.
“Bocce is so much fun to watch, especially if you’ve never seen a game played Italian style,” Dunbar said. “There’s something fun for everyone.”
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