Always one of the most viewed and most commented upon attractions at Festa Italiana is the Italian Heritage Photo Exhibit that will appear in the Pompeii Tent, in the Festa Piazza on the north end of the grounds.
When witnessing the thousands of people who annually view the vintage photo exhibit, expect to see a wide range of emotional reactions. You will see tears from some upon viewing a photograph of a deceased family member or relative they so loved and cherished. You will see smiles from others when they see a photograph from years gone by of their mother, father or grandparents at work or in a military uniform or enjoying themselves at a picnic. You will certainly see many people conversing with each other as they view the vintage photos and recall the good-old-days.
For younger generations, the exhibit gives them an opportunity to see what life was like for their ancestors – from the living conditions years ago, to the type of work they performed, and the experiences they had.
This year, our collection of more than twenty-five hundred photographs of families, street scenes and the places of business of Milwaukee’s early Italians will be showcased in the vintage photo exhibition at Festa Italiana, Friday, July 22 through Sunday, July 24.
This year, we are especially proud to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Sendik’s. We feel privileged that they have chosen to share this significant milestone with Festa Italiana through their sponsorship of the Pompeii Tent and Italian Heritage Photo Exhibit.
Sendik’s is a stunning example of the Italian experience in Milwaukee, those who love what they do, those who insist on quality, those with a strong work ethic, and those whose businesses stand the test of time, because they are emotionally invested in what they do for a living. Sendik’s history is our history.
Since many Italian immigrants had been farmers and grocers who sold fruits and vegetables in Italy and Sicily, when they came to Milwaukee, they specialized in what they knew. They loaded small carts with seasonal fruits and vegetables, pushed their carts through Milwaukee’s streets and sold produce. When people heard the call of the vegetable and fruit peddler, they came out of their homes to shop.
Festa Italiana is honored to feature vintage photographs celebrating the history of Sendik’s and the Balistreri family. We are proud to open our doors and welcome them in, and we encourage all guests at Festa to show their support by walking through the exhibit and celebrating this momentous occasion with such a fine, well-respected Milwaukee business.
Those visiting the Pompeii Tent and Vintage Photo Display this year are eligible to sign up for a DAILY drawing to receive a $90 Sendik’s gift certificate.
We have taken all of the beautiful wedding photographs and transformed them into a heart-warming slide show of vintage wedding photographs, some taken 60 or more years ago. The warmth and nostalgia of these photos will no doubt touch the hearts of those who stop to enjoy the slide show – the photos portray love, promise, joy, family and friends. They are timeless. The love they felt and the anticipation of a long, happy, healthy marriage are no different than the hopes and dreams of those who marry today.
A second poignant slide show will be devoted to Italians and Italian Americans who served in the military. As guests see their faces, we hope they will feel a sense of gratitude and respect for their service, and appreciate that those soldiers considered themselves to be both Italian and American as soon as they arrived in the United States, and they fought proudly for our country, and for our freedom and our future.
In 1919, responding to the needs of the growing Italian immigrant population, St Rita of Cascia Church began as a mission of the Blessed Virgin of Pompeii Church. The St. Rita Mission, located in a residence at 1329 North Cass Street, provided a place, in the heart of the community, for Sunday mass, social events, and religious instruction for the children.
In the middle of the Great Depression the communities of Pompeii Church and St. Rita Mission began a building drive to raise funds for a church and a school for Italian-immigrant children. In September of 1936, construction began on the St Rita Basement Church on the corner of Pleasant and Cass Streets. It served as both church and school during construction. On March 12, 1939, the first Mass was celebrated in the completed church. St. Rita’s, still a mission of Pompeii Church, did not become a parish in its own right until December 1, 1942.
2016 marks 80 years since the placing of the cornerstone on Pleasant Street at the entrance of the Basement Church. The journey of St. Rita’s from mission to church, school, and parish will be documented in this year’s photo exhibit.
In 1932 the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida answered the call to assist in religious instruction of the children of the Blessed Virgin of Pompeii Church and St. Rita Mission. The sisters cared for pre-school children in the nursery, taught catechism to the youngsters, and directed a choir. Many children learned to cook, sew and embroider from the sisters.
The photo exhibit will chronicle the establishment of Guardian Angel Nursery which began in 1933 and its expansion over the years. Visitors will see how the Sisters of Charity have provided trusted child care to generations of pre-school children.