Saint Rocco’s Feast and Festival returns to Johnston this month


The south section of Atwood Avenue is lined with American and Italian flags.

However, it’s the iconic banner — hung over the heavily traveled road around this time every year —that is living proof the ageless Saint Rocco’s Feast and Festival will be back in 2021 after last year’s hiatus caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In fact, the ageless fun, family and fantastic food fest will make its 81st appearance on Thursday, Aug. 12 and continue through Sunday, Aug. 15 on the grounds at Saint Rocco’s Roman Catholic Church, located at 927 Atwood Ave. in Johnston.

But before any of the extraordinary eats are served and those popular carnival rides and game-booths open, the feast and festival will continue an important tradition that began back in 1940.

On Monday, Aug. 9, the first of three Triduum masses will begin 7 p.m.  and continue each evening through Wednesday, Aug. 11.

The Saint Rocco Feast Mass is set for Sunday, Aug. 15 at 11 a.m. and will be followed by a precession led by the Rhode Island Veterans Band.

“The Triduum of masses will culminate with the annual Candlelight Procession,” said Richard Montella, who has long shared the event’s co-chairmanship with the ageless John Ricci. “This is always a special part of the mass nights.”

When asked to preview the feast and festival, Montella replied: “We’ll be back bigger and better than ever.”

“Our proud parishioners have already been working tirelessly to make sure 2021 is a huge success,” he said.

Moreover, the 2021 feast and festival will be a parish presentation with a number of groups at Saint Rocco’s — namely the Holy Name Society, Women’s Guild, Church Friends Association (CFA) — joining forces to make sure there’s an abundance of homemade foods and pastry during the four days. They’ll be offering everything from live music each of the four nights, as well as the famous doughboys made from scratch daily with dough donated by Don DePetrillo of The Original Italian Bakery.

“A lot of work has already gone into preparing for this year’s feast and festival,” Montella went on. “For example, members of our Women’s Guild have already hand rolled over 100,000 straws for their annual booth and will offer over 500 prizes. Through the years, our ladies have (hand) rolled over one million straws.”

Montella also encouraged other ladies in the parish to contact Arlene Troia 401-944-0483 if they’re interested in helping the Women’s Guild Straw Draw.

Yet another example of divine dedication, as Montella called it, comes from Bake Sale Chairperson Lisa Ciunci, who is seeking volunteers to bake goods for the caloric counter that in year’s past has been sold out.

“We ae looking for more volunteers to bake,” said Ciunci. “Any and all basked gods would be wonderful. We need many cakes, pies, cookies and desserts … also, please label what each of the donations and whether or not they contain nuts. Anyone with questions can call me at 401-862-6183.”

So, as has been the case in the Saint Rocco’s Feast and Festival through the years, the theme will again be food … food … food with ice cold beer and wine, excellent entertainment every night as well as Sunday afternoon and evening.

Although a fireworks display is not on this year’s schedule, Montella said “we’ve got added attractions thanks to the thinking of Harold Fera of Rockwell Amusement. He’s bringing in more rides and more games for more fun; we are sure people will like that the carnival has to offer this time around.”

For entertainment, Christiana & Derek will kick off the four nights on Thursday, with all events and booths opening from 6 to 10 p.m.

Friday and Saturday’s hours are also 6 to 10 p.m. with Sunday offering a full schedule beginning at 1 p.m. and closing at 10 p.m.

Second to None will perform Friday, the always popular Ambrosiani will be on stage Saturday evening, with Starzz Entertainment and R&J Review sharing Sunday afternoon’s spots, and Gemini closing out the event Sunday evening.