FORT MILL — Holy cannoli!
The 19th Annual Italian Festival, featuring a variety of vendors, games and rides for children, as well as live entertainment, will be held May 15-17 at St. Philip Neri Church, 292 Munn Road E. in Fort Mill.
Festival participants can indulge in homemade Italian specialties, such as eggplant Parmesan and cannolis, available for dine in, enjoying al fresco or to take out.
The festival expands beyond a church event, said event committee member Roberta Whitaker.
“We want it to be a community event,” she said. “It’s the largest ethnic event in the area.”
Whitaker said St. Philip Neri hopes to expose residents to Italian culture as the festival continues to draw a variety of vendors and bigger crowds.
“People can truly experience a community like this and see what we are all about,” she said.
Events include the Saints and Angels parade, which will be held Friday, May 16, at 5:30 p.m. at the fountain area of St. Philip Neri. Kicking off the festival’s Children’s Night, parade participants up to age 12 can march in their favorite costumes and meet two “Peanuts” characters. Best costume winners will be chosen for boys and girls, with the winners crowned the Prince and Princess Benvenuti of 2014.
The festival will also feature white wine tastings at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 15, and red wine tastings Friday, May 16. Beer lovers can sample of beers from around the world at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 17. Tickets are $12 a person, with half of the proceeds benefiting St. Philip Neri.
The festival will also feature a charitable drawing, and silent and live auctions.
The Fort Mill Jazz band will perform on Friday at 8:30 p.m.
The seventh annual Italian Idol Contest will bring together local talent in a variety of acts.
Italian Idol is open to all residents wishing to showcase their talent. High school students are encouraged to participate.
“We want (residents) to showcase their talents,” said Whitaker, who is also the chairperson for the Italian Idol contest. “There’s a great array of talent that comes through here.”
Auditions for Idol will be held at the Church Parish Center on Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Wednesday, April 30, at 6 p.m.
All contestants must audition to participate in the Italian Idol contest.
The Idol contestants will compete in two divisions: senior division for 13 years and older, and junior division for ages 7 to 12. The final round of competition will take place May 17 at 11:30 a.m. on the outdoor stage at the festival.
Cash, trophies and other prizes will be given to the first, second and third place winners in each division.
Senior Division first place winners will receive $200 and a trophy; second place winners will take home $150 and a trophy; and third place winners will be awarded $100 and a trophy. Junior Division first place winners will take home $100 and a trophy; second place winners will be awarded home $75 and a trophy; and third place winners will be receive $50 and a trophy.
Whitaker said the Idol contest usually draws audiences in the hundreds.
“It’s a fun thing,” she said.
To register for the Idol contest, visit SPNitalianfestival.org and click on “event details.”
Residents who enjoy running and helping the community can participate in the second annual Cannoli Runs.
The runs will take place on Saturday, May 17, at 9 a.m. at the St. Philip Neri church grounds.
Half of the proceeds will benefit the Fort Mill Care Center, which provides assistance with food, fuel, power, heat and medicine to local families in need.
Registration for the runs will be from 8 to 8:45 a.m. Saturday. Late registrations will pay $5 more per event.
Participants can also register online at Sportoften.com through May 14.
The Runs include the 5K Cannoli Run, the 1-Mile Sprint, the Family 1-Mile Walk/Run, the 100-Yard Dash (ages 6 and under) and the Combo 1-Mile Sprint & 5K Cannoli Run. Trophies and medals will be given.
For a complete schedule and registration fees for available runs, go to the event website or contact Dave Paukovitz at 803-415-1946 or email@example.com. Sponsor forms are also available online.