Following on from the first Mirboo North Italian Festa back in 2016, this event has become quite a popular one in the annual calendar. Of course it wasn’t the first Italian Festa, but it was the first that brought the entire community, and those from further afield, together to experience this unique festive event. And as the event has grown and become more popular than ever, the organisers have become more experienced and aware of the effort needed each year. I understand that the South Gippsland Shire has also lent their support for the event, which no doubt helps immensely to sustain events that draw people from far and wide. And I might also note that Paula Calafiore, one of the volunteers that makes the Italian Festa possible, was recognised in this year’s South Gippsland Citizen of the Year awards for her extensive contributions to the community.
As the Italian Festa enters its third year as a wider community festival, it’s grown quite considerably to become a major annual event. While the theme remains much the same, the event has become more polished as it matures, but still retains the essential elements that it’s intended to celebrate. But one of the problems with covering such events as these is trying to add a different perspective to the event and not become overly repetitive. Each year the Festa introduces something new in the way of the cultural exhibition, with the first year showcasing photos and letters from the early arrivals and last year a theme about weddings. This year it was about Italian cooking and Nonna’s Secret Recipes and that theme was followed on with special cooking exhibitions and related activities on the day.
With rain already falling at 10:00 am, it looked like we were to get a repeat of last year’s Festa where it was pretty wet, though spirits didn’t appear to be dampened too much despite the rain. As it turned out, the rain held off and while it initially appeared as if the crowds were down on last year, it became evident by around midday that the crowds may well have been much larger than I thought. The event was spread out along a much larger area this year with many more stalls. And when I left, all the streets were full of parked cars, which revealed the true extent of attendance. The event started off with the public Mass that was held under shelter and in a more central area, which provided a far better aspect for all attendees. And waiting in the wings, ready to lead the procession after the Mass, was Charlie Calafiore and grandson Darcy.
By the time the Mass was over, the crowds had truly begun to increase and had I not taken the photographs of the Vespas and Fiats earlier on, I think all I’d be able to do is get glimpses of the vehicles as crowds came to have a look. It’d be nice to be able to see more of these at future Festas, perhaps even some of the more exotic Concours D’elegance type vehicles. As I moved about, I was going to cover more of the attendees this year, but it was such a mass of people that it really wouldn’t have added anything to the story other than photographs of crowds, and you can see those just about anywhere, any time.
And as I wandered about, I came across our local ambulance crews in attendance, should there arise any calls for assistance. And as I was talking to the crew, a young man came up showing great interest in the ambulance, as young men are wont to do. So Cookie, one of our local paramedics, offered to show him ‘The Truck’. That’s what they call the ambulance. Young Patrick was quite intrigued by it all, though was a bit concerned when the siren went off. I should have had face detect off on the camera, as Cookie seems to have taken most of the limelight.
I decided not to hang around for the entertainment this year, as I was feeling a bit off today and maybe it was the weather, who knows. The spaghetti eating contest could have proved interesting, but that was still hours down the track and I knew I wouldn’t last that long. And there was no way that I’d last until the end of the day. But that didn’t really matter, as I had a good time and clearly others were having a good time as well. It certainly appears that the third Mirboo North Italian Festa was another resounding success and, thankfully, the weather was kind to everyone this year. Mind you, a bit of drizzle would have been far more welcome that the searing heat of just a few weeks ago.