Herrin Festa Italiana a success 30-plus years in the making

HERRIN, Ill. (KBSI) – Some consider Memorial Day weekend the kickoff to summer.

Herrin Festa Italiana takes that idea to heart.

“It’s the gateway to summer,” Herrin Festa Italiana president Cris Trapani said. “We look forward to it all year. We’re so excited to have it this year the way we have. Great weather, of course today. It means a lot to a lot of people. The whole region comes out and enjoys something.” 

It takes a team to put on a festival as grand as this one. 

“We’re partnered with the city of Herrin, the Herrin Chamber of Commerce, the Herrin Civic Center,” Trapani said. “We’re an arm of the Herrin Chamber of Commerce. We all work like a very well-oiled machine.” 

The festival came about as a way to draw people to the area.

“Back in 1990, before our first festival in ’91, community leaders from the chamber got together to brainstorm something that would draw attention and bring value to the community and the whole southern Illinois area, and that’s where it came from.” 

In addition to the largest carnival the festival has featured, another highlight is the bocce ball tournament. 

It is just one cog in the machine, but the sport’s heritage and inclusive nature make it an integral part of the festival… 

“The great part about Herrin Festa Italiana as a whole is it’s a community festival,” Herrin Festa Bocce Committee Assistant Chairman Kevin Frost said. “It’s done all by volunteers. It raises money that goes all over the community. Bocce is one part of that, but it is a unique part of it because it is uniquely Italian. It’s such a neat little thing to have, an important thing to have in the middle of all of this, to have this unique game that’s special to Italians, but anybody can play.”

The festival continues through Monday and will feature a Memorial Day service beginning at 9 a.m.

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