Little Italy says goodbye to summer in a big way with the St. Gabriel Italian Festival. The festival runs on Saturday and Sunday, noon-8 p.m. each day.
All activities take place on Little Italy’s streets, and most are scheduled to go on rain or shine.
St. Gabriel’s includes all the requisite fair fare: games, wheels, bingo, kids’ activities, fried dough and more — but with an Italian accent. In addition to the more than 30 restaurants offering refreshment, there are meatballs, gelati and vendors with everything from biscotti to pizzelles.
For those who need to fit in some phys-ed to make up for all the pasta they plan to consume, there’s the possibility of participating in the St. Gabriel Festival bocce tournament on Saturday, Aug. 20 (singles players) and Sunday, Aug. 21 (four-person teams).
On Saturday, the singles action will include 16 individuals, at a cost of $40 each, with $10 donated to St. Leo’s. On Sunday, there are 16 four-person teams with an entry fee of $160/team ($40 donated to St. Leo’s).
All registration fees are non-refundable, and tournaments will be played in a double-elimination format. Info/registration: Dino Basso 410-536-0886.
Those who want to put in some volunteer time and help make the festival happen (since they don’t happen on their own), assistance is still needed at the lemonade stand on Saturday, and on Sunday at the meatball, cookies or lemonade stands, the Big Nine game from 4 p.m.-8 p.m., or the beer truck from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Those who are interested should e-mail Laura Kerris at Laura.Kerris@shawinc.com.
And while the festival (one of Baltimore’s oldest traditions) runs on both Saturday and Sunday, Sunday is the religious centerpiece of the weekend. On Sunday, the Church of St. Leo the Great has Mass at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Primer for those who lack a background in Roman Catholicism, Italian culture and more: St. Gabriel, the founder of the festival, is the archangel and the angel of mercy. His statue will be venerated after the 11:30 Mass, and the devout will pin dollar bills to its cascading ribbons.
Those seeking more information on the festival can go to the website of the Promotion Center for Little Italy, www.littleitalymd.com/ or call 410-675-7275.
(Note: Another Little Italy event, National Bocce Day is celebrated on Sunday, Sept. 4, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. with four-person teams. Spectators welcome. Info: Giovanna 443-851-3311, Fran 410-207-7075).
by Mary Helen Sprecher