OLG's Italian Feast and Festival brings four days of fun, food

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If you wanted doughboys, a meatball sandwich or apple crisp, the annual four-day Our Lady of Grace Italian Feast and Festival was the place to be last weekend.

Festival Field in Johnston played host to a smorgasbord of food offerings, carnival rides and games during an event with roots that go back roughly a century.

“As often was the case where Italian immigrants settled and began to celebrate a particular devotion, the development of Our Lady of Grace Church as a parish grew out of that devotion,” said the Rev. Peter J. Gower, pastor of Our Lady of Grace. “The Feast of the La Madonna della DiFesa is well known, not only in the Johnston area, but also statewide.”

The tradition may have reached new heights last weekend, especially Sunday when Bishop Robert Evans came to Our Lady of Grace and celebrated a Solemn High Mass. It was followed by a record number of parishioners marching in a procession and carrying the statute through the streets of Johnston.

In keeping with tradition, the Johnston Police Color Guard led the procession, which also included a special trio of Johnston firefighters and a number of parishioners who carried various banners of Our Lady of Grace organizations.

“Thank God for the great weather,” Gower said. “We escaped [Hurricane] Dorian and everyone enjoyed a very, very successful Italian Festival. Our most sincere thanks and appreciation to our dedicated and hard-working Feast and Festival volunteers, and special thanks to everyone that came to Our Lady of Grace and sampled our great food and fellowship.”

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