38th annual Bravo Italiano Festival Sept. 8, 9 will return to roots

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The Bravo Italiano Festival is returning to its roots this year, beginning with the dates of the event.

The 38th annual festival is set for Sept. 8 and 9 at the Italian American Civic Association, 192 Bellew Ave. The festival is returning to its traditional dates of the weekend after Labor Day weekend.

The festival is usually held at the Watertown Fairgrounds Arena. But it’s often been moved to the Italian-American Civic Association at 192 Bellew Ave., such as between 2015-2017 when renovations at the arena forced the move. However, when ice began to go down at the arena in early September, the festival was moved to August, which has been when it’s been held for the past several years.

“That wasn’t really conducive to our plan,” said festival chairman Joseph Roselli. “Prior to that, we always did it the weekend after Labor Day. That was our good time. That’s why we went back to that and decided to do it at the club. We did the festival there a couple of times and it worked out. If it works out this year, I think we’ll probably continue to keep doing it at the club.”

Roselli said patrons will be able to park at two places where permission was granted to festival organizers: St. Anthony’s Catholic Church at 850 Arsenal St., and the VFW at 231 Bellew Ave.

“We’re trying to negotiate with the city to allow parking on Emmett Street on one side and maybe Bellew Avenue on one side,” Roselli added.

The traditional highlights of the festival will remain, such as the Miss Italia Pageant on Sept. 8.

“Before that, when people are eating dinner and stuff, I have two accordion players from Syracuse,” Roselli said. “They’ll walk around the tables playing Italian music.”

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