VACAVILLE — Red, white and green were everywhere and Town Square was packed for the inaugural Italian Festival in downtown Vacaville, Saturday.
The one-day event featured live music, folk dancers, Italian food, vendors and a whole lot of people.
For the first attempt at an Italian festival in downtown, organizers were pleased with the day.
“Some of our board members have teased me for a while, ‘How come you have Oktoberfest? How come you don’t have an Italian fest?’ ” said Bob Vollmer, executive director of the Downtown Vacaville Business Improvement District. “We sat and we talked and they came up with some great ideas.”
So the Italian Fest was born.
With games and activities for children as well as some classic Italian cars, including a 1959 Fiat, a Ferrarri 308 (think “Magnum, P.I.”) and a Lamborghini Diablo – all bright red in color.
Entertainment included accordion music, the Madrigal singers from Will C. Wood High School and the Friends of the Family band closed it out with their mix of traditional Italian music with a rock ‘n’ roll tilt.
Vollmer said he saw the group at another Italian festival.
“They just blew me away. I said, ‘You guys have got to come play our Italian Fest,’ ” he said.
The turnout was good for a first-time event.
“It’s been a steady crowd all day. I wish we had more vendors, just working this time of year, we just didn’t have enough time to chase more, but it’s been a fun bunch,” Vollmer said. “It’s fun.”
With parts of Merchant and Main streets closed to traffic, the festival was more pedestrian friendly, giving people room to roam beyond the Town Square area.
“We’re going to try to add a little more to what we do downtown,” Volmer said. “We want to make it bigger and better every year.”
The plan is for future festivals, such as the Country Western and Blues festival next year, to have multiple live music areas and to tie in with the newly renovated downtown theater.
“We like our small hometown flavor that we have here,” Vollmer said. “Everybody’s friendly, they’re happy.”
Newlyweds Bryan and Phomia Teefy, of Vacaville, were checking out the new festival with a particularly Italian perspective.
“We just got back from Italy and we had to come see it,” Bryan Teefy said.
The pair regularly supports downtown events, even volunteering at some.
“We’re friends of Bob’s and it’s like we had to come and check it out. We always love the downtown events, try to come and support it,” Phomia Teefy said. “I think they do a great job bringing people downtown and keeping excitement and atmosphere going in our town and keeping the community feel. That’s what we need.”
Terry Boland and Deborah Snelson, of Vacaville, also took in the sights and smells. Snelson even sported a miniature Italian flag protruding from her ponytail.
“Love all the festivals in Vacaville. Love all the Creekwalks, and all that stuff. Hard core addict at it, myself,” Boland said. “I’m always here. Anything coming up, it’s good.”
Boland observed that the Italian Festival has room to grow.
“This is the first Italian one, so it’s a little slow, but, hey, it’ll work it’s way up year after year,” he said. “(There are) a lot of Italians around here, anyway. It’s a great event, lot of good stuff. We definitely enjoy it.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.