The 2013 Columbus Italian Festival will celebrate and showcase all things Italian during its 34th annual rendition Friday through Sunday, Oct. 11-13 in Columbus' Italian Village outside St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 720 Hamlet St.
"Anything Italian will be here (and) it is fun for the entire family," said Joe Contino, festival marketing chairman.
This year's Italian Festival features several new activities and will welcome Deana Martin, the daughter of legendary "Rat Pack" crooner Dean Martin.
Deana Martin will serve as the grand marshal of the Columbus Italian Parade at 2 p.m. Oct. 13.
"Celebrating the Italian Woman" is the theme of the 2013 Columbus Italian Festival.
"We've tried to get Deana Martin here for the past two years and it finally worked out," Contino said.
Two years ago, one of the festival's regular headliners, the Rick Brunetto Big Band, performed a show called "King of Cool" featuring Dean Martin's songs.
Like her father, Deana Martin also is a vocalist and expected to make an appearance during the Columbus Italian Festival, though a time was not set as of Oct. 3.
Other entertainment during the three-day weekend includes Natalie Pinto, performing from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 11 on the Traditional Stage.
During the past year, Pinto has been on tour in Italy.
The Rick Brunetto Big Band, with tenor Elio Scaccio, will perform from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Oct. 12. The 17-piece band comprised of Columbus area musicians plays numbers ranging from the swing standards of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller, to Motown classics and R&B arrangements such as those of Earth, Wind, and Fire.
Lisa Dellarosa is scheduled to perform from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 12 and from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 12 on the Traditional Stage.
Born and raised in New York, Dellarosa lives in Florida and professionally performs throughout the United States. Her vocals styles range from those of Karen Carpenter to Connie Francis, according to her biography on the Columbus Italian Club web site.
For a full schedule of entertainers on various stages at the festival, visit the Web site columbusitalianfestival.com.
New at this year's festival is a "Casino Italiano" during parts of all three days in the basement of Sala Hall.
The event features Texas Hold 'em and Blackjack games, and a 50-50 raffle. Players must be at least 21 years old with valid identification.
"We think it will be a fun event that will also (financially) support (St. John the Baptist Catholic Church)," Contino said.
Bocce ball tournaments have been a standard at the festival, but this year there will be two courts and a larger tournament and purse.
"Bocce ball is getting more popular," said Contino, with courts and leagues turning up places other than private clubs.
Likewise, the parade, in its seventh year, has continued to grow. The parade includes numerous high school marching bands and a competition. The East High School marching band won last year's contest.
Food is also a staple of the show with numerous vendors offering Italian fare.
Some food, such as pizza made by St. John's members, is available only at the festival.
"We get calls later in the year (after the festival) from people asking where they can get those pizzas, but it's only at the festival," Contino said.
For the past six years, Contino said he has been working to make the Columbus Italian Festival more attractive to the "next generation of Italian-Americans" while still honoring and building upon the successes of the generation that founded the festival.
The festival was first held indoors at the Exposition Center on the Ohio State Fairgrounds. In 1999, it relocated outdoors to Italian Village. For the past eight years, the festival has been held on Columbus Day weekend.
The move was measured, Contino said, and meant not only to associate the festival with a date that is easy to recall, but also to serve an educational purpose.
"There is a lot of misinformation out there about Christopher Columbus and his journey," Contino said.
The 2013 Columbus Italian Festival is open from 5 to 11 p.m. Oct. 11; from noon to 11 p.m. Oct. 12; and from noon to 8 p.m. Oct. 13.
Tickets are $5 each and children 12 and younger will be admitted free.