Festa Italiana kicked off in the middle of a heat wave that will continue through Saturday.
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The bands were marching. The music was playing, and the food was cooking. Festa Italiana was off to a strong start except it was a scorcher.
Festival officials said there was at least one heat-related call minutes after the gates opened Friday. Otherwise, patrons were finding ways to stay cool at the Summerfest grounds.
Nine-year-old Kylynn Murn of Waukesha enjoyed a refreshing mist fan by one of the vendors.
“It feels good,” Kylynn said.
Several others visited the mist tent, while the kids ran through the splash pads.
It wasn’t too difficult to beat the heat at the festival.
Even Milwaukee County Transit lent its bus, so people could chill in the air conditioning. Officials allowed people to bring in their own unopened plastic water bottles. This was welcomed by Donna Guthrie.
“This heat can be very serious, so, yeah, I’m glad,” Guthrie said.
For Megan Zanon, a dancer with the Italian Dance Group of Milwaukee, it didn’t help that her uniform included wearing lots of clothes, but she said they don’t overwork anyone.
“We do like an hourlong set, so we all take breaks throughout the show. We make sure no one does too many dances,” Zanon said.
The thing is, there’s just something about this festival that draws a crowd.
“It’s the best food of all the festivals,” said Julie Hochuli of Brookfield.
“This is the largest Festa Italiana in North America. It’s got premier grounds, premier venue. No other city can compare with it,” Frank Schiro of Milwaukee added.
Some hot weather wasn’t going to stop them because they know we’ll be back in a tundra before we know it.
“This is the largest Festa Italiana in North America. It’s got premier grounds, premier venue. No other city can compare with it,” —Frank Schiro of Milwaukee
“We’re in God’s country here right now. This is the heartland. This is Wisconsin, so we have four seasons just like God designed them, but sometimes they all come in one day,” Schiro said.
Saturday is expected to be another hot one, so if you plan to come to the festival make sure to prepare, dress lightly and drink plenty of water. The grounds open at noon.