Richmond is a food-festival town, as we know from the parking battles that ensue when the Lebanese and Greek fests take place. Now the Richmond Italian Street Festival is moving from the streets of Church Hill to the roomier confines of the Horticulture Garden at the Richmond Raceway Complex.
With 25,000 attendees last year and a possible 30,000 expected this time, organizers say they need a bigger space.
But food, drinks and entertainment at the 5-year-old gathering will remain the same. Restaurants confirmed for the Oct. 11 to 12 event are Bacchus, Angelo's, Italian Kitchen, DeFazio's, Gino's Pizza and Roma's. Italian ices and Italian wine and beer are also on the menu. During earlier hours, attendees will hear traditional "opera-style" singing and Americanized Italian crooning (think Frank Sinatra). On Saturday evening, beach-music stalwarts Ron Moody and the Centaurs will play.
The larger venue will allow festival-goers to sit and have a picnic, says Mike Murphy of 311 Productions, which is managing the event. Parking and admission are free, although the nonprofit organizers have requested a $2 donation. "There's a lot to see," Murphy says, "a sense of history and culture." The festival will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 11 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 12. For details, visit richmonditalianfestival.com.