Italian Fest begins tonight

IRON MOUNTAIN – The eighth annual Italian Fest celebrating the area’s Italian heritage will return to downtown Iron Mountain today and Saturday organized by the Iron Mountain Downtown Development Authority/Main Street.

Participants are needed – 10 each – for the Italian Idol singing, Pizza Dough Tossing and Grape Stomping competitions.

Winners of these competitions will win a $50 cash prize donated to the charity of their choice.

Tonight’s festivities will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a street dance with music by Next Myle.

Saturday’s festivities will run from noon to 11 p.m. There will be kids games, bounce house, Italian market and bocce ball.

Opening ceremonies on Saturday begin at noon, followed by music by Carmella Altobelli at 12:15 p.m. and Italian King and Queen crowning at 1:30 p.m.

Altobelli ‘s array of ethnic Neopolitan songs will make you feel a part of her Italian heritage.

“At Italian Fest, everyone is Italian,” she feels.

Altobelli will be joined on stage by Scott Koehn, an accomplished accordionist, drummer Frankie Baroka and percussionist Pam Koehn, all of Merril, Wis.

Altobelli has an extensive musical background, having appeared at the Milwaukee Festa Italiana for over 12 years. In addition, she was a female vocalist with” The Ravelles,” a popular band that toured the Midwest during the 1960s and 1970s.

The group, Rare Gold, will be performing at 1:45 p.m. Saturday followed by the Pizza Dough Tossing competition at 3 p.m., a performance by Anastasia Lee, the previous Italian Idol winner, at 3:15 p.m., the Italian Idol competition at 4 p.m. and the Grape Stomp Contest at 5:45 p.m.

Jan and Gino will perform at both 4:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. on Saturday and the Sundogs are featured as entertainment starting at 8 p.m.

“Bring your wristband from Friday night, and you will get in Saturday free of charge,” organizers said. Tour de Dickinson bike race participants will get in to the event for free as in past years. Admission to the eighth annual Italian Fest is $5, with children, age 12 and under admitted free of charge.

Italian vendors will be setting the scene with Italian cuisine, organizers noted. Food vendors for this year will include Alley Dogs, Antonio’s, Chainey House Bakery, Crispigna’s Italian Market, and Northside Noodle Co.

The beer and wine tent will be stocked with local and Italian beverages will be open throughout the festival. Musical entertainment will run throughout the day with the Italian Market offering merchandise for purchase.

“I am so excited to be a part of this year’s event,” said Rebecca Grider, DDA/Main Street manager. ” It’s a great way to be able to come together and celebrate not only our city’s Italian heritage, but the pride we all have in our community.”

“Proceeds from Italian Fest will help to support continuing Downtown revitalization efforts,” Grider added

The deadline to sign up for the events is 4 p.m. today.

Participants will be accepted on the day of Italian Fest if space is available.

To sign up for any of these events, please contact Iron Mountain Main Street at 774-8534, stop by the Iron Mountain City Hall DDA/MS Office at 501 S. Stephenson Avenue, or send an e-mail at

Carmella Altobelli’s sponsors include Northern Michigan Bank & Trust, First Merit Bank, Econo Lodge, Stephen’s Real Estate, El Capitan Restaurant, the Wishing Well, the Drug Store, Clint Peterson Interior & Exterior Paint, Northern Carpets, Izzo Carpeting, Occhetti-Seldon Dental Clinic. and Sweet Repeats.

Linda Lobeck’s e-mail address is