Italian-American Heritage Festival Starts Friday

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DES MOINES, Iowa-- Italian-American Heritage will celebrate its sixth annual festival even bigger this year.

"Come on down, everyone is Italian this weekend," said Darren Marasco, chairman of the Italian -American Hertiage Festival.

The festival will once again will be held at Western Gateway park this year and they have expanded.

Marasco said that with the growth of the festival they needed to add more space to accommodate.

"Response," said Marasco on the growth of the festival. "The city has responded very well to the festival."

The perimeter has been pushed further east on Locust Avenue and it will be filled with a lot for festival-goers, especially food.

"We've got pizza. We've got pasta. We've got Italian pastries. We've got wine flown in from Italy," said Marasco. "We have all kinds of different Italian restaurants that you have go to throughout the city to enjoy are all going to be in one place this weekend. So, it's just matter of steps to try them all."

Admission to the festival is free before 5:00 PM on Friday and Saturday with a food or monetary donation to the Food Bank of Iowa.

After 5:00 p.m. On Friday, a $5 admission for adults and children 12 and older will be charged. After 5:00 p.m.  On Saturday, a $10 admission for adults and children 12 and older will be charged.

A portion of the gate proceeds on both nights will benefit the Youth Emergency Services and Shelter of Iowa.

Marasco said they are aware of the heat, highs in mid-90's, and will accommodate as much as possible.

They have setup extra tents to provide shade. They will also have multiple water station to fill up water bottles but the best escape for the heat will be the air-conditioned Italian-American Heritage Hall inside the Pappajohn Educational Center on 12th and Locust. The festival runs until Sunday at 1 a.m.