Little Italy Fest-West rolls around early this year

 
Daily Herald staff reports
Updated 8/1/2018 9:54 AM
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  • Ron Onesti mans the grill at a previous Little Italy Fest-West. This year's festival will be held Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 2-5, in Addison's Centennial Park.

    Ron Onesti mans the grill at a previous Little Italy Fest-West. This year's festival will be held Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 2-5, in Addison's Centennial Park.

Hear the sizzle of the grill cooking homemade Italian sausage, see cooks prepare ravioli and arancini, feel the camaraderie and nostalgia of a neighborhood block party at this year's Little Italy Fest-West Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 2-5, in Addison's Centennial Park.

The man behind all the homemade cooking is Ron Onesti of Onesti Entertainment. He sponsors such a festival in Chicago, too. But a local celebration seemed in order, so he started it himself more than 10 years ago in Addison.

Festivalgoers can try old-school Sicilian dishes, Italian sodas homemade pastries and several gelato flavors -- and a wood-burning pizza oven for freshly baked pies.

What keeps people coming back every year, food-wise is the on-site home cooking. In the past, Onesti has attributed the success of each festival to such classics to homemade meatballs and Italian sausage, onions, and peppers platters.

Each year, Onesti and his dedicated crew commit to weeks of prep work and daily cooking starting each day of the festival at about 6 a.m. They usually prepare food to feed 20,000 to 25,000 people.

For the entertainment, people come back each year to hear big acts perform the sounds of Sinatra and more. The Bronx Wanderers are back as well as The True Sound of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons with Ragdoll.

Festival hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is $5 for adults, $10 on Saturday. It's free for children age 15 and younger. It's also free for the "Prima Notte" Thursday.

The event takes place at the Marcus Theatre on Lake Street, one light east of Rohlwing Road.

The winner of the Daily Herald Media Group and Onesti Entertainment VIP table at the festival is Carrie Mueller. The prize package includes a reserved table for a party of 10 for two hours on Sunday. Guests can enjoy family-style platters of authentic Italian food and one round of soft drinks or water.

Besides all the homemade food, there is a daily lineup of music and other entertainment. For details and a schedule of events, call (630) 962-7000 or see arcadalive.com/onesti-festivals/.

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