Being an Italian girl from New Jersey in Los Angeles can be tough! There’s no good pizza, bagels are a joke, and if you can find someone who knows that zeppoles are nothing like funnel cake, you’re ahead of the game! That is with the exception of the Feast of San Gennaro.
This outdoor festival celebrating Italian heritage is put on by The San Gennaro Foundation and kicks off October’s Italian Heritage Month. The event is sponsored by Galbani® Cheese and since 2002 has donated over $1,000,000 to local charities that benefit Los Angeles shelters for children and families, food banks for the homeless, and school programs for underprivileged youth, among others. The event is held annually by event co-founder Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla and takes place along Hawthorn Avenue in Hollywood at the backside of the Jimmy Kimmel Stages.
The Feast celebrates Italian culture, entertainment, and cuisine. It features traditional food covering Italy North to South, music including songs made famous from the “San Remo Music Festival” and “That’s Amore! An American Italian Songbook,” a genealogy research tent, bocce courts, bingo, carnival ride & games, a silect auction and the “Italian Casino & Poker Tournament.” There is even a weekend car raffle for a Fiat, all to raise funds for the San Gennaro Foundation. And did I mention I was the first one to ride the rickety old ferris wheel for a magical moment overlooking Hollywood Boulevard. I may have even won two goldfish at the carnival games named Sunny and Shelby!
As I walked around the event on its premiere night, Prima Notte, celebrity guests (including Drew Carrey) were spotted joining Chef Marco and his cooking team, as they demonstrate Italian recipes on the Galbani® Cheese La Cucina Italiana Cooking Stage.
The festival truly captured Italian ambiance and made me feel as if I was at a typical street fair in Brooklyn or having a holiday dinner with my closest forty relatives! The weekend concluded with a Procession of St. Gennaro down Hollywood Blvd on Saturday and a Mass on the Main Stage presided by Monsignor Antonio Cacciapuoti on Sunday.
I even got my brown bag full of delicious fried dough and powdered sugar!