Food, music and dancing will be part of the 38th Italian Festival this weekend at the St. John the Baptist Italian Catholic Church, 168 E. Lincoln St. in Columbus.

"It washes your soul with happiness," said Landa Masdeo Brunetto, festival spokeswoman. "It's more than a good time -- it's heartfelt."

Tickets are $5 at the door; children 12 years old and younger will be admitted free.

Hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7; and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8.

Brunetto said patrons should bring an appetite for the multitude of Italian delicacies for sale, including a Sicilian-style pizza set on a deep, airy crust.

She said the pizza is made once a year by festival volunteers and "people come from miles around" to get a slice or two.

"It's the best homemade pizza in the world," Brunetto said.

Other choices include sausage sandwiches, a pasta dinner (salad, roll, butter and meatball on penne), cannoli, Italian pastries, ricotta gnocchi and arancini.

"There are so many dishes," she said.

Cooking classes also are scheduled each day at the Italian cultural booth, Brunetto said.

For entertainment, a number of bands will perform on several stages throughout the festival.

Two Gents and the Lady with the Rick Brunetto Band will perform Italian classics, opera, musical theater and pop from 8:30 to 9:45 p.m. Oct. 7 on the traditional-music stage.

Local favorite Phil Dirt and the Dozers will play music of the 1950s and '60s from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Oct. 7 on the contemporary-music stage.

New this year, Italian-language students from Bishop Watterson High School will make public presentations about the regions of Italy from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 7 at their festival booth.

The annual Columbus Day Parade will be at 1 p.m. Oct. 8. According to the festival website, the parade will assemble on Dennison Avenue and travel east on Buttles Avenue, north on High Street, east on Warren Avenue and end at Fourth Street. Marching bands from the parade will perform from 2 to 2:45 p.m. on the traditional-music stage.

When describing the event, festival co-chairman Michael Cua recalled the words of the late Casto Marrapese, a priest at St. John's and founder of the festival, who said it was about "faith, family and friends."

"I don't think you can improve on that," Cua said.

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