San Gennaro Festa at The Marina This Weekend
The two-day festival in Safety Harbor celebrates all things Italian while benefitting a number of charitable organizations.
The San Gennaro Festa, a two-day event celebrating Italian traditions and culture, takes place this weekend at the Safety Harbor Marina.
The LIADO club, an organization based in Dunedin made up entirely of Italian-American women, is hosting their 10th edition of the event, which features food, entertainment, games and vendors.
According to LIADO president Julie Calabrese, attendees do not have to be Italian in order to enjoy the festival.
“The festival is for people who love all things Italian,” she said. “You don’t have to be Italian to love all things Italian.”
"It's a family friendly event, and our goal is to promote a realistic image of Italian-Americans."
Every year the LIADO group, which was founded in Clearwater 20 years ago, contributes proceeds from its fundraising events to a number of area charities and organizations.
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The primary beneficiaries of this year’s festival include St. Joseph’s Hospital (children’s cancer); the Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Children Center (autism); the Alzheimer’s Association of Florida’s Gulf Coast chapter; and the LIADO Scholarship fund.
Calabrese says helping children is a priority for the group.
“Our goal is philanthropic, and we really look to help children," she said. "To date we have donated more than $80,000 to Italian-American students though our scholarship program.”
“We really work hard,” she added.
That work also includes cooking. In fact, Calabrese says the ladies have already prepared over 1,700 meatballs — by hand — for the festa’s famous meatball tasting contest.
And like any Italian cook worth her salt, she is quick to brag about her work.
“LIADO women make the best meatballs ever. And if you don’t believe me, come to the festa and see for yourself.”
If You Go:
What: San Gennaro Festa
When: Saturday, Feb. 23, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Sun, Feb. 24, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Where: Safety Harbor Marina, 110 Veterans Memorial Ln.
Info: The Italian festival features plenty of family friendly entertainment, including puppet shows, grape stomping, a rock wall, fireworks and street performers. Vendors will be selling food, drink and merchandise. Live entertainment will be provided by area and out-of-state performers.
Cost: $5.00 admission, free for children under 12
Contact: Visit the LIADO website at www.sangennarofesta.com, or call 727-724-4045 for more information.