Celebrate all things Italian in Warren this weekend

St. Alexander's Church festival is Friday and Saturday evening

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They’ve been putting it together every year for half a century, and by now St. Alexander’s Church parishioners think of their annual Italian Festival as not just a fund-raiser but a treasured family reunion and block party.

This week’s festival at the 221 Main St. church runs Friday and Saturday evening (raindate Sunday). Close to 50 parishioners have already signed up to run gaming tables and the many food bays that line the midway, and organizers expect to see many old friends who come back every year for the fun.

“People come and they stay because they see people they haven’t seen in a while and it’s kind of like a reunion of sorts,” said parishioner Deb Abbruzzi, who traces her memories of the festival back to when she was a kid.

“It’s really all about the camaraderie. Everyone lends a hand and we have a lot of fun.”

The festival’s food is legendary: There are meatball, eggplant and sausage and pepper grinders and sandwiches, doughboys, chowder and clambakes, sweets and plenty of drinks. And when visitors aren’t eating, there are plenty of games to play and live music Saturday night.

Another one of the draws is the super raffle, which generally includes dozens of prizes from gift certificates to electronics and more. This year, one of the biggest prizes is a kayak.

Musicians Ryan and Tyler Falcoa of Bristol were scheduled to play Saturday night but last week, American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest called and asked that they fly out to California for a video shoot. Jacob Hereoux and his band Out of Blue will take their place.

Ms. Abbruzzi spent last week putting together work assignments and while it’s a big job, she said organizers always find a way to staff all the tables and booths. While older parishioners sometimes leave or pass away, there are always more coming up behind them, willing to help out. 

“It’s really like a big family,” she said. “Everyone looks forward to it all year.”

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Note: The festival runs Friday, June 16 from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, June 17 from 5 to 10 p.m. If there is rain on either day, the festival will also run Sunday, June 18 from 4 to 8 p.m.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.