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Organizers pleased with initial Italian American Festival

By Staff | Feb 2, 2010

Bob DeGross was busy serving up the chicken Parmesan subs, veal Parmesan platters and piping hot soup Sunday during the inaugural Italian American Festival of Cape Coral.
Both of the Italian American Club’s kitchens were incredibly busy both days of the festival, as thousands of people visited the Bavarian Gardens at the German American Social Club to get a taste of Italian culture.
Food, of course, was one of the event’s highlights. But so was music, dancing and good times for everyone.
Club president DeGross said the city has a Christopher Columbus Day parade, but thought there was room for another festival celebrating all things Italian.
“The Cape didn’t have an Italian festival, and we wanted to share that part of the culture with the community,” DeGross said.
Despite both cool weather and rain, DeGross said that attendance numbers were looking good for both days.
DeGross estimated that between 6,000 – 10,000 people visited the festival Saturday and Sunday.
He said sausage and peppers was the most popular item, and during Sunday’s chilly temperatures, the Italian soup was selling well.
“I think we’re doing pretty good,” DeGross said.
The Italian American Club is 43 years old, according to DeGross, and boasts upwards of 450 members.
DeGross said the club gained a few more members during the festival.
Pam Leonard from the club said attendees were chased away by the brief downpours on Saturday, but came back to resume their festivities.
“We stamped their hands and then they came back to finish having a good time,” Leonard said.
Both DeGross and Leonard said they were already looking ahead to next year.
Despite the weather, DeGross said he liked having the event at this time of the year, because they didn’t have to compete with other festivals and a lot of people from up north are down for the winter.
“We want this to be an annual thing,” DeGross said.