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.
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.
It’s amazing how quickly a year goes by; it feels like just yesterday when I covered the Mirboo North Italian Festa for the first time. I missed the ‘festive’ part of the festa, which followed the mass later on in the day, so this year my aim was to cover those latter activities, as they are more the fun part of what this festa is all about; food, wine, music, grape stomping and all that (I’m sure that there was some Grappa exchanging hands somewhere on that day last year). Given the short notice of last year’s festa, it turned out to be quite an event and I suspect much larger than anyone expected or hoped to achieve. This year the advertising has been far more extensive and there was a good chance that it was going to be a much bigger event than last year.
Now this one had me completely taken aback when I first heard about it, especially as I couldn’t find anything on the internet telling me what it was about (history wise). We’ve lived in Mirboo North for over four years and this is the first time that I’d heard of the Mirboo North Italian Festa, despite the fact that it’s been running for nearly 50 years. Apparently it was previously called the St Paul Festival but is now known as the Mirboo North Italian Festa. It’s basically a family festival commemorating the history of the Italian people in the region, all things Italian, and St Paul, the Patron Saint of Solarino from where many of the families now living in the region came from, so many years ago. Today, it’s morphed into a wider festival, encompassing all cultures that live in the region.