Whether rain, shine or both at the same time, hundreds of people are gearing up to spend the coming weekend indulging in the flavors of Italy at St. John's Church's 28th annual Italian Festival.
As is customary, the festival will include a smorgasbord of homemade Italian foods and desserts such as tripe, gardoni, pasta fagioli and cannoli, and spumoni.
"We like to think of the festival as a comprehensive taste of Italy," said festival co-chair Jim Boland. "And we've converted the large church hall into a place where most of the food will be served, so people can enjoy themselves regardless of what the weather is like."
Over the past week, the weather has been strange to say the least. Its been raining on sunny days and generally unpredictable, although preliminary weather reports for this coming weekend are looking clear and sunny.
The St. John's Italian Festival began like many other festivals in the area- as a small barbecue. Twenty-eight years later, the event has become a summertime staple of Chautauqua County and it annually draws hundreds to the parish on the corner of Buffalo and Newton streets in the city of Jamestown.
In addition to the food, there are several musicians booked for the event, a children's game tent and a bocce ball tournament featuring the city council and the county legislature.
"We have worked hard to make the festival include something for everyone, including the kids," Boland said. "And most of all, admission, parking and all the entertainment is free. We set it up like that so everyone who wants to can come down and enjoy themselves. We'd rather have them buy some food than pay a door fee just for paying us a visit."
Boland said that the crew preparing for the St. John Italian festival is in competition with organizers of other festivals, but it's all in the name of fun.
"When we heard how many cookies the ladies at the St. James festival baked, our ladies knew they had to get busy," he said. "But in reality, although we compete for fun we don't consider ourselves in competition with the other festivals. We all get together and discuss what works to make sure every festival is a successful one and that everyone has a good time."
The festival will begin Saturday at noon and continue to 9 p.m. that evening. On Sunday, it resumes at noon and continues until 5 p.m.
Musical performances are scheduled all weekend long and everyone is welcome to attend.