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UST Hosts 40th Anniversary of the Italian Festival

The Houston Italian Culture and Community Center’s 40th annual Italian Festival will be held Oct. 11-14 at the University of St. Thomas.

The festival celebrates Italian culture and features numerous food and cultural booths, along with live music. For the first time, the festival will also include a “faculty grape stomp” contest, where teams of two professors will challenge each other to produce the most grape juice in one minute and 30 seconds.

UST chair of communication and ICCC president Livia Bornigia said the festival’s 40th anniversary “speaks to the tenacity of the organization.”

“The event started with a group of Italians that wanted to honor their families and the struggles their families had when they immigrated to this country,” Bornigia said.

The festival had many different locations in the past, including downtown at city hall and in a barn on the outskirts of Houston, but it now draws thousands of people to UST.  

“UST is a good location; it is such a beautiful campus,” Bornigia said. “We have things inside of Jones Hall and have a beautiful place for a stage outside.”

Bornigia said numerous UST students and alumni help volunteer at the festival, and that  organizing the event takes the entire year. When the festival ends, the executive committee immediately begins to plan for the next one.

Planning and training for the event “feels like the iron man,” she said, but is well worth the effort.  

“Festa Italiana has brought joy and allegria to our city for 40 years and plans to be around for much longer,” she said. “We love sharing the beauty of Italian culture with everyone on the beautiful UST campus.”

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