One of Rhode Island’s longest standing traditions will make its 82nd annual appearance this weekend in Johnston.
It’s called the St. Rocco’s Feast and Festival which will officially open Thursday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m. on the grounds behind the Roman Catholic church at 927 Atwood Ave. The feast will run through Sunday, Aug. 21 at approximately 10 p.m. after tickets for a total of $7,500 in cash prizes have been drawn.
“We’ll be rolling out our welcome mat for visitors to come and enjoy the finest in Italian cooking,” said Richard Montella, who is serving as co-chairman for the 15th consecutive year. “We pride ourselves on serving only the freshest homemade food. Our signature item is, of course, our delicious doughboy donated by the Original Italian Bakery.”
Montella, who noted the feast is presented annually by the Holy Name Society, Women’s Guild and Legion of Mary as well as the proud parishioners at St. Rocco’s, also wanted it known that “Don DePetrillo and his team work hard to provide us with nearly a ton fresh dough. We’ll also have his famous pizza chips.”
Likewise, the second so-called signature item is the sausage and pepper sandwich served on fresh rolls baked every day especially for the feast.
“Our menu will also include meatballs and macaroni, eggplant and special arancini — also known as rice balls,” the dedicated co-chair added. “We’re looking forward to a great weekend of fun featuring our fine foods.”
Moreover, Montella said Lisa’s Bakery will be open offering what he called “Sweet Treats for All” and there will be a bar area offering ice cold beers and wines.
Yet another tradition of the St. Rocco’s Feast is the Straw Draw Booth operated by the Women’s Guild that Montella said “is hoping to set a new record and surpass last year’s total sales of more than 100,000 straws. Arlene Troia and her team are more than up to the challenge.”
Festival and Feast-goers will also be able to purchase a variety of religious items as well as talk with Sister Donna, one of the three popular nuns at St. Rocco’s.
Meanwhile, Sisters Mary Antoinette and Sister Daisy will perform a number of duties that always lead to the event’s overall success.
“Harold Fera,” who Montella noted is another member of the St. Rocco’s parish, “will have fun for all the families — most especially their children — with his famous carnival rides and game booths of his Rockwell Amusements that were set up earlier this week.”
No St. Rocco’s Feast would be complete without entertainment, which will begin Thursday at 6 p.m. when Christiana Rod Caprarelli and Derek Capobianco set up in the stage area underneath the huge “Big Top” — a.k.a. the 120-feet long by 90-feet-wide cathedral tent, where all events are held except the carnival rides.
Montella also announced that DJ Eddie the Fixer will have Friday night’s entertainment followed by Gemini’s performance Saturday. Sunday, Starzz Entertainment featuring Steve “Elvis” Querini, and the R&J Review of Richard and Jack Martone will perform in the afternoon, with Ambrosiani closing out the schedule at night.
“Sunday is always our busiest schedule,” Montella noted. “We’ll celebrate our patron Saint Rocco at the 11 a.m. mass followed by a procession led by the RI Veterans Marching Band at noon. The Feast and Festival will begin at one o’clock and remain open until 10 p.m. when (Rev.) Father Angelo Carusi will pull the winning tickets for cash prizes of $5,000, $1,500 and $1,100.”
Admission is, as always, free and feast and festival hours are 6 to 10 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Aug. 18, tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 19) and Saturday (Aug. 20), and 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 21).
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