Northeast Pennsylvania is teeming with Italian food options come this time of year.
Of course, there’s La Festa Italiana, which takes place this weekend in downtown Scranton.
And then there’s Old Forge’s wildly popular Felittese Festival, a tradition in the borough for more than 30 years. Next weekend, thousands of revelers will flock to the annual celebration in honor of Our Lady of Constantinople.
This year’s Felittese Festival runs Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7, from 5 to 10 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 8, from noon to 10 p.m., at the Felittese Fairgrounds, 145 Third St., Old Forge.
As always, the festival will feature its usual delectable assortment of Italian foods, plus live entertainment every night.
Also on Sunday, the festival will hold its traditional procession of the statue of Our Lady of Constantinople immediately following the 10 a.m. Feast Day Mass at Prince of Peace Parish St. Mary’s Church, 123 Grace St. The procession will walk from the church to the Felittese chapel grounds at the festival.
By now, most Old Forge residents are well-aware of the Felittese Festival’s origins. It pays homage to the Our Lady of Constantinople observance in Felitto, the Italian town where many Old Forge residents trace their lineage. The festival always takes place at the same time as Felitto’s celebration.
“It’s a family-friendly festival that people just love to come back to. It’s good food and good people,” said Felittese Association chairman of the board and treasurer Louis Mazza.
Festival attendees will have dozens of homemade Italian delicacies to choose from, including tripe, sofritto, gnocchi, meatball platters and sandwiches, porketta sandwiches, sausage and pepper sandwiches, portabella mushroom sandwiches, pasta fagiole and pizza.
And, no trip to the festival would be complete without a stop at the pastry tent, which will feature everything from cannoli and biscotti to cheesecake, cookies and pizza fritta.
“Personally, I think the food is better than at La Festa,” Mazza said, noting the preparations start several weeks before the festival, with a dedicated crew of volunteers pitching in.
For those who can’t stick around and engage in all the revelry, takeout packages will be available.
Meanwhile, the food isn’t the festival’s only attraction. Each night of the festival will feature a different local band. Mace in Dickson Band will perform Friday from 7 to 10 p.m., Danny and Kartina will take the stage Saturday night and The Wanabees will close the festival Sunday night.
In addition to all the food and fun, Felittese comes with a charitable component. Proceeds from the festival benefit a host of community organizations and causes, from volunteer fire companies to school groups to fundraisers for borough residents in need.
If you go
What: Annual Felittese Festival
When: Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7, 5-10 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 8, noon to 10 p.m.
Where: Felittese Fairgrounds, 145 Third St., Old Forge
Details: For more information on the festival, visit the Felittese Association’s Facebook page.