Wednesday, April 9, 2014
The Lowcountry has no shortage of cultural festivals, and yet two years ago a group of area residents felt something was still missing.
“We have every festival imaginable in the tri-county area, but there was no Italian festival,” said Teri Lupinacci.
And thus the Lowcountry Festa Italiana, LLC was born. The nonprofit organization exists to promote the Italian culture, said Lupinacci, the organization’s president, and is centered around their largest event of the year, the Italiana festival.
The first Festa Italiana was held last year in Azalea Park, where it will be held again this year on April 26 from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Lupinacci said there will be something for everyone at the festival: Venetian mask crafting for kids, Italian merchandise, Roman soldiers, music, a bocce tournament, grape stomping, a Tarantella dance demonstration and Italian food, beer and wine.
She contributes the success of last year’s event to Lowcountry residents: “There are a lot of people of Italian descent in the tri-county area and they were just thirsty for this.”
The 2013 festival attracted around 4,000 attendees. This year double the food vendors and craft vendors have registered to participate, so Lupinacci is anticipating double the attendees.
“There was an unforeseen need there. We filled that need, and people are excited about it now.”
She said the festival embodies the organization’s key goal — to promote the Italian culture, heritage and traditions.
“I believe in my heart that if we don’t actively do something to promote the Italian heritage to the next generation, I fear it will be lost.
“When we pass on traditions, culture and heritage, that will last forever.”
The Lowcountry Festa Italiana holds several fundraisers througought the year, all while promoting Italian culture and heritage. The money they raise goes to a scholarship the group has established with the College of Charleston for an Italian studies student to further their education.
Educating and involving youth is a huge part of the organization, Lupinacci said, which is why the scholarship is so important. The organization also employs an intern from the College of Charleston to help organize the festival.
She said everyone, whether they are of Italian descent or not, should attend the festival to try something new.
“You have to dance the Tarantella. And also let your hair down and try the grape stomping,” Lupinacci recommended.
She also suggested trying the homemade mozzarella cheese from Bacco, the meatballs from Amalfi’s and the gelato at Paolo’s.
But for Lupinacci it’s not about the food, or the festival for that matter. It’s about leaving a legacy.
“When I am dead and gone I want my grandchildren to know their roots, about how the Italian people came to America and contributed. I want them to be proud of their heritage, their culture, and just know about it.”