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Festa Italiana Salutes Dick Contino July 23 with Special Memorial and Tribute Concert

June 19, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Famed Accordionist Performed at Festa 34 Times in Festival’s 40-Year History



MILWAUKEE – June 19, 2017 – Festa Italiana, presented by Calypso Lemonades, today announced it will present a tribute concert to famed accordionist Dick Contino on Sunday, July 23 at 6 P.M. on the Miller Lite Stage at Festa Italiana.  Contino passed away April 19 at the age of 87.


Contino, a popular favorite among many festa-goers, played at the festival 34 times in Festa’s 40-year history.  The special memorial tribute concert will include Contino’s son, Pete Contino, his daughter, Deidre, and three-time World Champion Accordionist and Contino protégé Cory Pescaturo.  Other participants include Ray Massa and the Russo Brothers, both Nick and Domenic.


“From his first appearance at our very first Festa, Dick became a crowd favorite whose charisma was contagious and whose talent was exceptional. His down-to-earth personality won over everyone who came to see him and got to know him,” said Dean Cannestra, Festa General Co-Chairperson. “With his passing, there was no question in my mind that Festa Italiana had to do something special to salute this remarkable man.”


Longtime Festa fans will recall Pete Contino performing on drums and accordion with his father in the mid-1980s. A year or so later, Dick and Pete were joined on stage by Deidre Contino, who sang with her father’s band. The next year, all three had their own gigs at Festa. Pete and Deidre are the children of Dick’s first wife, the late Hollywood actress, Leigh Snowden, and still perform with their own bands.


Pescaturo is one of only four accordionists to win World Championships on both the acoustic and digital accordion, and is the only person to ever win a World Championship on jazz. At the age of 12, he was the youngest person ever to play at a state dinner at the White House. At 15, he became the youngest person to win the U.S. National Accordion Championship. He graduated from the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he was the first musician ever to major and graduate on the accordion.


When Pescaturo was 15, Dick Contino said, “Of all the accordionists I’ve seen over the years, Cory is the one to pass the torch to, the only one who has all the tools to bring the accordion back to its former glory.”


Ray Massa is the leader of the EuroRhythms, an Italian/Italian-American swing band, who will be performing at Festa Italiana all three nights. The son of immigrants from the Campania region of Italy, Massa excels on the accordion and various string instruments. Like Dick Contino’s shows, the performances by Ray Massa’s Eurorhythms are upbeat and crowd-pleasing.


Nick and Dominic Russo have been part of the Festa entertainment since they were 8 and 4 years old, respectively, performing on the Children’s Stage. Even back then, the Russo Brothers performed a tribute to Dick Contino, one of their heroes. Nick is a magnificent accordionist and keyboardist, while Dominic is the smooth crooner.


“This should be a remarkable salute to a remarkable man,” added Cannestra. “We’re anticipating that the Dick Contino Fan Club will re-group its nationwide members for this tribute and, really, all of his fans will come out to salute this legendary accordionist who graced the stages of Festa Italiana 34 times.”


Festa Italiana is celebrating its 40th anniversary July 21-23, 2017. For more information on the Dick Contino Tribute and other entertainment, please visit: For more information on Cory Pesaturo, please visit:

BoDeans to Headline Festa Italiana Friday, July 21 to Kick Off 40th Anniversary

May 11, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Hometown favorite will be joined by NBC’s “The Voice” 2012 finalist Nicholas David



MILWAUKEE – May 11, 2017 – Festa Italiana, presented by Calypso Lemonades, is excited to host hometown favorite, the BoDeans as its Friday, July 21 headliner at 9:00 P.M. at Henry W. Maier Festival Park (Summerfest grounds). BoDeans will be joined by NBC’s “The Voice” 2012 finalist Nicholas David. Previously announced headliners include Gin Blossoms and Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti.


Formed in Waukesha, Wisconsin, BoDeans today are known as one of the best live acts in the business as the band continues to tour year-round and deliver amazing, high energy performances. As a small contingent of bands that inspired a new radio format known as Adult Alternative, Album Rock-Triple A, their reputation for delivering a dynamic live show garnered support slots with U2/Joshua Tree Tour, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, George Thorogood, The Pretenders, David Bowie, and appearances at Farm Aid, Summerfest, and ACL, among others.


Chart-topping songs like “Fadeaway,” “Only Love,” and “Dreams,” won them Rolling Stone’s readers’ poll for Best New American Band in 1987. The band has released several albums which embody multiple songs played heavily on the radio, in TV shows, and movies, and defined a sound that a generation embraced-songs like “Good Things,” “You Don’t Get Much,” “Idaho,” “If It Makes You,” “Closer to Free,” “Stay,” “American,” and, “All the World.” BoDeans now reside in a small group of bands that have managed to survive the ups and downs of the industry, remaining true to their sound and their style, for nearly 30 years. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum has them permanently displayed as part of their Midwest Artists exhibit.


“Milwaukeeans saw BoDeans grow into one of the most popular bands of the nineties and the band continues to show their affection for the area with their new music video titled, ‘My Hometown.’ BoDeans are sure to kick off Festa Italiana’s 40th anniversary with a bang and we are excited to have them perform opening night. We also expect Nichloas David to put on a spectacular show for festivalgoers,” said Dean Cannestra, Italian Community Center president and chairman of Festa Italiana.


Nicholas David Performing at 7:30 PM

A vibrant, dynamic and multi-talented singer/songwriter from Saint Paul, Minn., Nicholas David has composed alternative soul music that connects with people worldwide on a deeply human level. Prior to his unforgettable 2012 run with Team CeeLo on NBC’s “The Voice,” Nicholas had already recorded five critically acclaimed albums, experienced national radio airplay and participated in multiple charity and collaborative projects. Fans of The Voice were introduced to his soulful and storied career during this time where he struck a chord with America and finished a fan favorite in the top three. When it comes to his iconic live shows, Nicholas is a one-of-a-kind and must-see act. As if channeling inspiration from an outside source, the instant he walks on stage he gives himself over to the music. His emotional approach to songwriting and performing is the very reason the thriving Twin Cities music scene affectionately nicknamed him ‘the feelin.’


Festa Italiana takes place Friday, July 21 – Sunday, July 23, at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. Festivalgoers can take in all entertainment acts for the value price of only $10.00 for advance sale tickets now through July 20. Tickets are $13.00 after July 20 and at the gate.

Festa Italiana names “America’s Got Talent” finalist as second headliner

May 11, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

OnMilwaukee coverage of our Italian Headliner Sal Valentinetti!

Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti to Headline Festa Italiana’s Italian Line-Up

May 3, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

“America’s Got Talent” Finalist will be joined by Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms, The Sicilian Tenors, Tre Principesse, Anna Calemme, and the Florentine Opera



MILWAUKEE – May 3, 2017 – Festa Italiana, presented by Calypso Lemonades, today announced Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti will headline the festival’s Italian entertainment line-up, performing Saturday, July 22 at 7 P.M. and Sunday, July 23 at 8:30 P.M. at Henry W. Maier Festival Park (Summerfest grounds). Valentinetti will be joined by other Italian favorites including Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms, The Sicilian Tenors, Tre Principesse, Anna Calemme, and the Florentine Opera.


Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti took season 11 of the NBC hit show “America’s Got Talent” by storm and is most known for belting out the classic Frank Sinatra hit “My Way.”  Sal not only received a standing ovation but got the coveted “Golden Buzzer” from Judge Heidi Klum.  The 21-year-old Italian-American crooner is best known for his flawless vocals, larger than life personality and heart of gold. Since being on the show, Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti sold out three Christmas Shows at the famous Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York and performed in a round at one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite venues, The Theatre at Westbury (formerly The Westbury Music Fair). Sal loves to tell the story of how his father saved up just enough money to see Frank Sinatra on June 11, 1975, at Westbury. On March 3, 2017, the Valentinetti family returned to Westbury and watched with pride as Sal performed his 90-minute show to a sold-out crowd of 3,000 people just like his idol, Frank Sinatra. In October 2017, Sal will be the official Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day parade in Chicago, which is the second largest parade in the country and is working on a Christmas album to be released later in 2017.


As Heidi Klum declared: “I like the way you talk. I like the way you sing. I like everything about you.” Festa attendees won’t want to miss this energetic show featuring all the traditional favorites Saturday and Sunday evening!


“It’s important to celebrate our Italian heritage during our 40th anniversary, and we have a stellar Italian entertainment line-up not to be missed. Sal ‘The Voice’ Valentinetti, an ‘America’s Got Talent’ finalist will sing all the Italian favorites and will surely entertain Frank Sinatra fans.  We are excited to bring back Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms, a well-traveled band that bridges Italian and American musical tributes, as well as new acts such as Tre Principesse, a young, all-female trio, and Anna Calemme, ‘The Elegant Voice of Naples.’ We are also happy to welcome back Festa favorites including The Sicilian Tenors, The Russo Brothers, Tony Spavone and the Florentine Opera,” said Dean Cannestra, Italian Community Center president and chairman of Festa Italiana.


Additional Italian Headliners include:

  • Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms: Get ready for a feast of Italian/American musical tributes, from the swing sounds of Louie Prima, smooth vocals of Dean Martin, the harmonies of the Jersey Boys to the current pop sounds of Italian Rock! Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms are a huge hit at Italian festivals and concerts nationwide and in Italy! The Eurorhythms’ popularity is attributed to their unique arrangements of songs from Italy’s current Pop Charts like, “Vespa” and “Femmina” by Paolo Belli, to great Italian hits of all styles from the 80’s to the 50’s like, “A Chi” or “Tu Vuo Fa L’Americano” and their own Italian version of “Hang on Sloopy.” These great songs are intertwined with the ever-popular Italian/American favorites like, Louie Prima’s swinging “Zooma Zooma Baccala,” and great hits from the Jersey Boys.
  • The Sicilian Tenors Featuring Aaron Caruso, Elio Scaccio and Sam Vitale: The Sicilian Tenors bring together three marvelous Tenor voices, each singing their own interpretation of the world’s best music in a recital format!  Aaron Caruso, Elio Scaccio and Sam Vitale will again “wow” Festa audiences with a romantic journey from Hollywood to Broadway to Italy. Combined with light-hearted fun, this is a concert for all ages to enjoy!
  • Tre Principesse: Festa is excited to welcome for the first time this newly-formed, talented trio of young musicians. Tatiana Marie is an 18-year-old soprano, Italian Idol finalist, and Overall Honorable Mention in the pop category of International TV Talent Show “Music For Kids.” Anastasia Lee, a 20-year-old contralto, performed with global superstar Josh Groban when she was just 14 years old and is a three-time Italian Idol winner. She released her first single, “Sano e Salvo,” in January 2016, which was a best seller on Amazon. Agne G., a 15-year-old soprano, was the winner of the Pop Opera Division at “Music For Kids” talent TV show and has performed at Carnegie Hall and appeared on The Steve Harvey Show.
  • Anna Calemme: Anna Calemme performs Neapolitan songs like no other and is referred to as “The Elegant Voice of Naples.” She is glamour, she is sensual and sings, dances and acts, playing songs of the greatest Neapolitan songwriters, from “Fenesta vascia” to “Regginella” and “Napulè.” Her voice is warm and harmonious and she can reign it in to the most intimate of sounds: simple, melancholic, romantic. Anna Calemme is a giant talent in her native Italy, with a seductive personality and sharp wit. Among her discography is Anna Calemme: Napoli Infiniti Amori, Nà Maschera, Live on Rome and The best of Anna Calemme (Una Vita).
  • The Florentine Opera: Festa Italiana is excited to welcome back The Florentine Opera as they perform each day at Festa! The Florentine Opera, the three-time Grammy® Award-winning and sixth oldest professional opera company in America (and founded by John David Anello as the Italian Opera Chorus in 1933 in the Third Ward) will return to its roots by performing acts from opera’s greatest masterpieces live onstage. A cast of some of this country’s leading young opera singers will perform some of opera’s greatest arias and songs- directed by Florentine’s General Director, William Florescu with musical direction by the Florentine’s Scott Stewart. Festa audiences can sit back and enjoy the world-class performance of The Florentine Opera!


Festa Italiana takes place Friday, July 21 – Sunday, July 23, at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. Festivalgoers can take in all entertainment acts for the value price of only $10.00 for advance sale tickets now through July 20. Tickets are $13.00 after July 20 and at the gate.

Gin Blossoms to Headline Festa Italiana Saturday, July 22

April 26, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Saturday Entertainment Line-Up Also Features Violin Femmes Starring Bella Electric Strings and Dog ‘N’ Butterfly; Take in All Entertainment Acts for the Cost of a Festa Admission Ticket



MILWAUKEE – April 26, 2017 – Festa Italiana, presented by Calypso Lemonades, today announced Grammy-nominated Gin Blossoms will headline the festival Saturday, July 22 at 9 P.M. at Henry W. Maier Festival Park (Summerfest grounds).


With numerous Billboard hits, Gin Blossoms’ fusion of Melodic Rock, Pop, Folk and Country elements has helped pave the way for the modern Rock of today. Gin Blossoms’ five-time Platinum breakthrough album, New Miserable Experience, contained gems such as “Until I Fall Away,” “Found Out About You,” “Hey Jealousy,” and “Allison Road.”  Those hit tracks were followed by Empire Records Platinum Soundtrack hit, “Til I Hear it From You,” and in 1996, by the singles, “Follow you Down” and “As Long As It Matters.”  From their breakout album through today, Robin, Jesse, Bill and Scotty have sold over 10 million records and are one of the most in demand 90’s live artists who began at the end of the grunge era.


In February 2017, the band went back in the studio recording a new album in time for release this Summer. Fans will get a taste of the new album as it works its way into their live set beginning this April. The band will perform in over 100 cities in 2017, making it one of the busiest touring years since the 90’s. Gin Blossoms remain a rare breed – rock ‘n’ roll lifers, destined to continue creating, crafting, and performing for audiences ever rapt by their glorious catalog of material.


“What better way to kick off our 40th anniversary than with a star-powered entertainment line-up.  Gin Blossoms are one of those bands that people of all ages love and can resonate with and we know they are going to bring a spectacular show to Festa.  We also have the Violin Femmes staring Bella Electric Strings that will excite crowds with their violin renditions of rock classics. Saturday’s line-up is only the beginning of some great entertainment that Festa will have in order to celebrate its 40th anniversary right,” said Dean Cannestra, Italian Community Center president and chairman of Festa Italiana.


Additional Saturday (July 22) Headliners include:

  • Violin Femmes Starring Bella Electric Strings: Violin Femmes staring Bella Electric Strings, will rock Festa attendees with their blistering solos and unique arrangements—not to mention their beauty and charm. The girls have performed with some of the biggest names in the business, from Beyoncé to Shakira to Andrea Bocelli, and have appeared on America’s Got Talent Season 1. Performing the music of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Queen, Prince, The Eagles, ELO and more, Violin Femmes takes Bella Strings to a whole new level. The only one of its kind in the world, there are no other similar string acts operating at this level of production. Be prepared for something that you have not yet seen the likes of!
  • Dog ‘N’ Butterfly, the Ultimate HEART Tribute Band: Created in late 2003, this 6 piece band is dedicated to bringing their talent and love of Heart’s memorable music of the 70’s and 80’s to the stage. Complete with a stage show and retro- inspired costumes, Dog ‘N’ Butterfly takes the concept of “Tribute” to a whole new level! Dog ‘N’ Butterfly performs all the 70’s hits loved by die-hard Heart fans worldwide as well as the chart-toppers that brought Heart back into the limelight in the 80’s. Fronting the band is vocalist Lizann Warner whose portrayal of Ann Wilson is both eerie and unparalleled., earning her praise from the actual members of Heart.  Lizann is joined by Desha Dunnahoe who is not only a multi-instrumentalist who plays both electric and acoustic guitars fluently but is also a gifted composer and orchestrator.


The members of Dog ‘N’ Butterfly painstakingly recreate every harmony & nuance of Heart’s memorable music down to the last detail. This, coupled with their dynamic stage show & retro-inspired costumes, makes them a virtual tour-de-force of talent and dedication, providing fans with exactly what they promise… The Ultimate Heart Tribute!


Festa Italiana takes place Friday, July 21 – Sunday, July 23, at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. Festivalgoers can take in all entertainment acts for the value price of only $10.00 for advance sale tickets now through July 20. Tickets are $13.00 after July 20 and at the gate.


A full Festa Italiana entertainment schedule of performers will be released as acts are confirmed. To learn more about Festa Italiana, please visit

Festa Italiana now offering special ticket deals for 2017 festival

April 18, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Save on Festa Italiana tickets with ‘$7 for 7 Days Spring Fever Ticket Deal’

April 18, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

OnMilwaukee details our Spring Fever Ticket Deal!

Festa Italiana Celebrates 40 years with $7 for 7 Days Ticket Deal Starting April 17

April 11, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Join the Italian Community’s 40-year tradition of food, family and festivities July 21-23, 2017



MILWAUKEE – April 11, 2017 – Festa Italiana, presented by Calypso Lemonades, is bringing back its spring ticket deal and encourages festivalgoers to purchase their discounted ticket to Italian food, entertainment and fun April 17-23, 2017.  The popular $7 for 7 Days Spring Fever Ticket Deal is available online only at


Running for 7 days during April, May and June, attendees can take advantage of the Spring Fever Deal April 17-23, May 15-21 and June 19-25. Advance $10 online tickets are also now on sale through July 20, 2017. General admission is $13 at the gate and children ages 12 and under are admitted free all three days when accompanied by an adult.


“2017 marks our 40th anniversary and we are very excited to celebrate this significant milestone with festivalgoers this summer.  Many of our traditions involve volunteering and celebrating our Italian heritage and culture with friends and family at this annual event. We are proud to continue to share our Italian culture with the community and encourage everyone to take advantage of our special promotions as we head into the summer months,” said Dean Cannestra, Italian Community Center president and chairman of Festa Italiana.


Celebrating 40 Years of Food. Family. Tradizione.

From its modest beginnings forty years ago, Festa Italiana has grown into the largest Italian event of its kind in America today. Festa Italiana originated as a way to bring together an Italian community torn apart by urban renewal projects. As the first ethnic festival to take place in Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, now known as the Summerfest grounds, Festa was a “coming home” party for many Italians and served as a chance to share the best of the Italian culture with the community.


In its 40th year, Festa carries on time-honored traditions including the celebration of Sunday Mass and Procession, cultural exhibits, bocce courts and games, gondolas, photos of the old Third Ward and Italians in Milwaukee, as well as delicious food and entertainment true to the Italian culture including opera, dance, song and fireworks!


More news and information on this year’s Festa Italiana will be announced in the coming months.


Advance tickets for Festa Italiana are on sale now online.  Purchase your advance online ticket for $10 through July 20 at  For ticket questions, please call 414-223-2808.

Travel + Leisure: 10 Great Reasons Why You Should Plan a Trip To Wisconsin

April 15, 2016 | Media Coverage | Permalink

Festa Italiana was included on Travel + Leisure’s list of things to do when visiting Wisconsin.  Who wouldn’t want to attend #FestaMKE!

Read article here

Travel + Leisure

Festa in the Media

August 12, 2015 | Media Coverage | Permalink

We had a wonderful time at Festa 2015, and we hope you did, too! To get Milwaukee excited about all things Italian, we stopped by lots of local media and made them a part of our Festa famiglia.


Below are some of our favorites – click on the photo to watch/read! 


JS cannoli       On Milwaukee         Fox 6TMJ 4    WISN 12      CBS58      Fox 6

Festa Logo

Media Contacts

Festa Logo


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