85th Annual Festa Italia Fisherman’s Festival

By Madi Rapella
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The Festa Italia stage where the bands and the opera singer perform. Photo by Madi Rapella

On Sept. 7 – 9, Monterey hosted its 85th Annual Festa Italia Fisherman’s Festival at the Custom House Plaza. The Festa Italia honors the Italian culture, while also honoring Monterey’s past and present fishermen.

From the penne pasta to the cannolis, the celebration had something for everyone’s taste buds. The most popular dish, however, was the Arancini–Italian fried rice balls. Customers waited in the never-ending line for these giant rice balls that were coated with crispy breadcrumbs and stuffed with ragù, peas and mozzarella. Over the course of three days, locals and tourists had the opportunity to listen to various bands, watch the parade, partake in raffles and the bocce tournament—also known as Italian lawn bowling. The game has been played by a wide range of people, from the Romans to the Greeks, for many centuries.

John Gibson, a local vendor, selling his Pastamoré products at the Festa Italia. Photo by Madi Rapella

Local vendors had their various merchandise set up along the sidelines of the event. Among them was John Gibson, who has been selling Pastamoré products for six years. His booth primarily consisted of olive oil, balsamic vinegars, mustards and other
gourmet condiments.

Gibson enjoys selling his products at the various Italian festivals around the Bay Area.

“Events like the Italia Festa have brought more culture and liveliness to Monterey,” says Gibson.

Locals and tourists strolling through the festival. Photo by Madi Rapella

However, he has noticed a decline in other street vendors over the years. Gibson believes it is because people are more interested in spending money on food instead of the souvenirs and other products.

If you did not attend the event this year, make sure to check it out next time to support the local vendors, celebrate the Italian culture and fi ll your bellies with traditional food.

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