Each summer Central Illinois comes together to celebrate its
Italian heritage in Hickory Grove Park.
Of course there is plenty of great food and music from the country known as "the boot
When you think Italians, one of the first things that comes to mind is...
“The food behind me here. We have our spaghetti, lasagna and different sandwich meals,” said Rob Facker, President of the Italian-American Society of America.
Those at the Italian Summer Festa didn't tell us their secret recipe
That special something that makes their spaghetti and meatballs taste so good.
But they did let us in on another, not so secret fact.
Italians are very family oriented.
“Italians are all about family and this kind of atmosphere. We do a lot of family things together. So it's important for us to continue this kind of heritage within the community.”
than 500 people were at the festival, which has been going on for 85 years. And many of them were returning families.
“We got the family. Everybody else comes out and enjoys it immensely,” said Peoria resident Jim Agatucci.
Jim Acatucci has been coming to the festival for decades.
He usually brings his family.
He says it's a way for those close to him to learn about their Italian heritage.
“This thing out here stimulates that tradition and keeps going on year after year.”
Apart from the food, the fun, the family atmosphere, the Italian Summer Festa raises money to support local Italian-American students as they go off to college.
“We just want to help foster the future of the Italian youths in our community.”
It's money that's helped Cole and Clay Kendre- whose family has roots in Italy- get through school.
So far the group has raised more than $80,000 to support local Italian-American students.