St. Rocco’s feast set to raise some dough

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If you ask Richard Montella why the Saint Rocco Church’s Annual Feast and Festival has been a special success through decades of operation, he’d quickly say, “It’s because of the way our parish community comes together.”

Montella, who works daily in the food industry as a sales and marketing consultant, is a perfect example of the dozens of proud parishioners who’ll work in many capacities at this weekend’s fun and food fest that opens tonight at Festival Field behind the Roman Catholic Church at 925 Atwood Ave. in Johnston.

“I’ve done everything – just like other folks,” Monatella said Tuesday evening. “I’ve served food, cooked it, washed pots and pans – you do anything that’s needed for events like this.”

Montella, though, is in a new capacity – he’s the co-chairman with the ageless John Ricci - for the annual Feast and Festival that runs through Sunday and will feature some of the beast homemade Italian food in Rhode Island.

“We’re ready!” Montella exclaimed. “We’ve planned a great [four-day] event. However, the weather dictates everything.”

Montella says one of the event’s most important parts is “our Sisters who year-in and year-out do so, so much for the festival. They are tremendous and we are fortunate to even have a Sisters’ order here at Saint Rocco because a lot of parishes don’t have that.”

Montella heaped praise upon Sisters Mary Antoinette, Donna and Daisy who will be among the many people staffing food and religious booths this weekend.

While the festival is known for its sausage and pepper sandwiches, meatballs and macaroni, fried eggplant and of course Italian delicacies and pastries, Montella said people can enjoy steak sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries and even ice cream.

When asked what is and has been the event’s signature food item, he said “The doughboys! By the time Sunday night rolls around, we will have used over a ton of freshly made dough.”

Although Montella didn’t know just how many doughboys people like the three Saint Rocco Church Sisters – and other volunteers – will make beginning tonight, he did want it known that Don DePetrillo of The Original Italian Bakery located next door to the parish donates all the dough.

“What a nice guy,” Montella said. “Don is one of those men who can’t do enough for you. He’s always been very, very generous and year-after-year helps make our festival a success.”

DePetrillo is also making another monumental donation that will help Saint Rocco Church increase its festival profit this year.

“He’s donating a two-year, 21,000-mile lease of a 2017 Ford Escape,” said the co-chairman. “That’s the first place prize in our annual raffle. The man is just incredible … really, really special.”

Montella also said that people can also win cash – in amounts of $1,500 and $1,000 – that are second and third place prizes in the raffle. Tickets are only $2 each, three for $5 and seven for $10. They’ll be on sale throughout the weekend and the drawing will be held Sunday night.

But first, Montella and Rev. Angelo N. Carusi, the popular pastor at Saint Rocco, want people to come and joy the food, fun and fellowship, games of skill at the Women’s Guild Straw Draw Booth and rides that Rockwell Amusements set up earlier this week at Festival Field, and of course entertainment under the Big Top.

Tonight’s feature is Singers Christiana Rodi and Derek Capobianco while the Kelley Lennon Quartet will perform live music tomorrow night. Gemini will be the featured performer Saturday while Sunday the Rhode Island Veterans Band will play from 1 to 2 p.m. and the RNJ Review will take its place under the Big Top from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

The week’s final music will begin at 5:30 Sunday and run until 9:30 with Ambrosiani providing more quality live music.

The annual Fireworks Extravaganza will begin at 9:30 p.m. Saturday evening. Festival hours are tonight through Saturday: 6 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday, its one o’clock until 10 p.m. Admission is free every day.

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