Once again with Summer in full swing it’s time for the Mirboo North Italian Festa. And swing is about the right word as the temperatures have been going up and down from mild to searing hot on a daily basis (20C differences from one day to the next). Now in its fourth official year, the Mirboo North Italian Festa has grown from an uncertain but promising start, into an anticipated feature at the beginning of each New Year; the biggest event in Mirboo North today. People travel from far and wide to attend and, as the event has matured, the rough edges are beginning to be smoothed out and it’s become quite an event to behold. The theme is the same, but as interest has grown, additional activities have been brought in to expand on the Italian culture that the Festa represents.
The weather at this time of year is never predictable, where it can be hot and dry one day and then cold and wet the next, or both on the same day. This has been the case with every Festa and so you have to be prepared for any eventuality. I was hoping for good weather, as I wanted to video the entire event, but the gar I wanted to use was not weatherproof, so if it was going to be wet, then that gear would stay at home. Thankfully, while there was some early drizzle, the rain didn’t arrive even though it remained overcast for most of the day, not a bad thing for photographers and videographers. I got there early once again to begin coverage with the Mass and get an overall view of the lay of the land for this year’s Festa. Things are always a little different, so it pays to get there early if you want to be prepared. As with every Festa, the event begins with a morning Mass honouring St Paul.
This year the Festa covered most of Baromi Park, with stall holders set up, or setting up, from one end to the other. It’s always hard to say whether the Festa was a bigger event than the previous year, as it’s impossible to properly estimate attendee numbers because things are so spread out and with people coming and going throughout the day. Suffice to say that once things really got going, after the Mass, the numbers started swelling measurably. I wanted to move around carrying my rather sizeable camera setup, which meant that I had to pretty much traverse all day via the grassed areas and not the sealed pathway. Crossing the pathway was reminiscent of trying to get across a busy highway waiting for a break in the traffic. Whatever the actual numbers, it most certainly appeared to be a significantly larger event than last year, with both stall holders as well as attendees. A recurring theme at each Festa now are the Italian cars and Vespas that come from near and far to attend each year.
I have to admit that after four or so hours of lugging my 13kg+ camera setup around the Festa, throughout the hilly grassed areas, I was pretty tired by the time I got home. That camera lugging meant that I decided to forgo the entertainment that followed the Sbandieratori di Faenza (flag bearers) presentation. What followed the latter was a presenter/comedian and music that led on to the competitions. That meant I missed out on the grape stomping and spaghetti eating competition once again, so I wish that these came a little earlier rather than towards the end of the day. I think this would also be appreciated by attendees that come from further afield, as then they can choose to leave earlier if they have a long drive ahead of them. Waiting till late afternoon for the fun competitions to begin may well mean that people will miss out on these events. The Mirboo North Primary School put on a well received show for the parents, relatives and visitors who attended, not to be outdone by the Sbandietori di Faenza.
The main attraction for the day was the Sbandieratori di Faenza, who were touring Australia and offered to put on a show basically for free, a pretty good gesture. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the show as I didn’t hear about their background, which I may have missed as they came on briefly while I was about, but it was certainly colourful and different. With the crowds swelling in the front of the stage, it was most opportune for our Roman soldiers to be in attendance and clear the crowds for the Sbandieratori di Faenza to pass through as their time came to present. As an aside, the Roman soldiers were in much greater numbers this year, in fact a Contubernium (eight legionaries), who made a most colourful squad. The same squad also attended a major gathering of Roman soldiers in Canberra the previous year, and coming from all corners of Australia, that would have been an interesting sight to behold.
Once again the Festa just seems to grow and become better every year and the effort put in by the volunteers is truly amazing. The sheer growth of the Festa makes it that much more difficult to organise and that it runs so smoothly is a testament to the efforts of the organising committee and volunteers. But as for the Festa itself, there’s no doubt that it was another resounding success, with the Sbandietori di Faenza doing a special show the next day for those who missed out (we could hear the drums rolling across the hills the next morning).
A summary of the Festa:
Note: Unfortunately my editing laptop died a week prior to the Festa, so this story has been delayed for a month awaiting the laptop’s return from a warranty repair. The inability to present this story in a timely manner was exacerbated by the fact that I recorded the entire event (or the part I attended) through video. I could have done things with my regular cameras, but I was looking forward to producing something a little different and hopefully the accompanying video has been worth doing.