SAGRA, CARNEVALE, FESTA, – Italian words for Festival, Carnival, Party.

In any town or city in Italy throughout the year but mainly in Spring, Summer and Autumn, every facet of life is celebrated.

Festivals celebrate produce, food, wine, religious icons, dance, flag throwing, medieval and historic re-enactments and provide any excuse for a party.

The foundations of the Mirboo North Italian Festa lie in history and a tradition in the far off homeland of Italian immigrants who arrived in Mirboo North post World War 2.

With hearts full of hope and arms ready to embrace every opportunity Australia had to offer, these early immigrants worked hard to create a better future for their families.

They also sought to maintain their traditions through recreating the Festa of their home town Solarino in Mirboo North – beginning in 1965.

Fast forward to 2024 – where travel across the world has enabled people from all lands to fall in love with Italy.

Larger than life, loud, passionate, warm, generous and fun loving people, amazing food, infectious music and dancing, history, traditions, colour pomp and ceremony – the Mirboo North Italian Festa aims to deliver it all in one spectacular day of free entertainment for families and friends to share.

Just like Nonna – first we want to feed you – “Mangiasti? Have you eaten?” Dozens of food stalls will offer authentic foods from the regions of Italy. Arrosticini (sizzling salty lamb skewers) from Abruzzo, plump potato gnocchi from the north of Italy, arancini and cannoli from Sicily, pizza from Napoli, pasta, panini, polpetti (meatballs) salsicce (spicy Italian sausages) and calamari from up and down the coast.

Try fabulous Italian donuts – zeppole (also known as frittole in the north and sfince in the south) gelato, tiramisu, biscotti and other decadent dessert delights, a huge range of coffees, wines, beers, juices, mocktails, and what’s a party without an Aperol Spritz or two? Nonna will be delighted if you can’t fit another thing in!

Get into the vibe as you drive through the rolling green hills of Gippsland – imagine you’re winding through a Tuscan landscape.

Maybe you’ll even pass a Vespa or two, or a classic Italian Fiat or Alfa Romeo as car enthusiasts make their way from all parts of Victoria to join and display their vehicles for all to admire.

Move over pasta grannies – everyone wants a nonna and all that she represents!

Nonna reigns supreme in every kitchen. The Nonna’s Secret Recipe Books One and Two featuring local nonna’s recipes will be for sale and everyone can learn something in the cooking demonstration marquee.

Bespoke butcher James Mele from The Meat Room will show how to make porchetta – Italian roast pork and and he’ll have lots of his award winning salami for sale.

Special guest nonnas will share how to take simple ingredients and turn them into something molto delizioso in an Italian style dinner party.

Take a step back in time and be entertained by the Ancient Roman re-enactors of Victoria providing visual and verbally interactive displays of both Roman soldiers and civilians, pieces of engineering equipment, as well as conducting marches among event attendees.

The kids just love these interactive displays, clothing, uniforms and weapons.

Be enthralled by the amazing spectacle of flag throwing, an exhibition that dates back centuries and that can only be witnessed at certain times, in certain towns and cities across Italy.

The performance by the Sbandieratori and Musici of Faenza at the 2023 Festa was a once-in-a-lifetime unique and rare opportunity to see this spectacle in Australia. However, they are back in 2024 for the last time!

The intricate bejeweled costumes of the performers hark back to the Renaissance period, their colourful flags denote competing neighbourhoods, and the launching of them high into the air to the thunderous beating of drums is a stunning sight to behold.

What is a party without music? The fantastic eight-piece band Siesta Cartel and the Top Shelf Duo featuring Dean Canan and Lisa Asta will have everyone on the dance floor with traditional and modern interpretations of old favourites.

Their music is infectious and uplifting, sing along or get up and try the Tarantella.

Renowned comedian and MC James Liotta will host the day’s program of entertainment, and will have everyone laughing in the aisles with his insights into daily Italian family life.

Take a stroll to the market area and browse through a fabulous range of Italian inspired artisan goods, arts, crafts, ceramics, woodwork, home-wares, as well as produce, wineries, boutique spirits, craft beers and cider, vinegars, oils, preserves, relishes, take home biscotti, pastas, garlic and more.

The South Gippsland Shire have improved the Baromi Park facilities, adding an extension of the skate park and natural adventure playground – so there’s lots for the bambini (kids) to do.

Magician Luigi Zucchini will present an interactive comedy/magic show sure to keep kids entertained.

Add free face painting, mini golf, Community Bank Mirboo North Giant games, community Police, Ambulance and CFA vehicles to explore and there’s fun to be had by children of all ages.

The Festa starts rooted in tradition, with an outdoor mass at 10am to celebrate St Paul – the Patron Saint of Solarino in Sicily from whence the majority of immigrants in Mirboo North came in the 1950s and 60s.

All are welcome to share this most traditional part of the day and to participate in the procession of the Saint through the park that follows.

There really is something for everyone in this family fun day out – and best of all it’s free to attend.

Patrons only need to buy food and drinks and make a gold coin donation if parking at The Walter Tuck Reserve or Mirboo North Secondary College School Oval.

The Mirboo North Italian Festa will be held, Sunday, February 11 for what is sure to be another fabulous celebration of La Dolce Vita.

A crowd of more than 20,000 attended last year. Patrons are advised to allow plenty of time to get in and out of Mirboo North.