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Delaware’s largest outdoor cultural festival is back in full swing

2022 Italian Festival
Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

The St. Anthony’s Italian Festival in Wilmington is back in full swing after 2 years of the pandemic almost completely halting operations.

Anthony Albence is a parish trustee and part of the festival’s steering committee. He says while this year is a bit different than years past, the festival is essentially back to normal.

“2020 we had to cancel the event completely, 2021 we did a very scaled down, modified event week, which was essentially a takeout event, and we held it the week of the festival,” Albence explained. “It was a shortened event, not the full 8 days. So this is the first time we’ve done the full traditional festival since 2019.”

And Saint Anthony of Padua Grade School principal Judy White says that’s good news for the school, which relies heavily on the money raised.

“Actually 100% of the profits from this event go directly to the grade school. So, without that being here for the past 2 years, we’ve had to apply for the payroll protection plan,” said White. “So fortunately we were able to do that but that has run out now, so we need 8 sunny days and nights!”

While the festival is largely the same as it was in 2019, the pandemic led to some noticeable changes.

One change is the festival is now almost completely cashless.

Albence says they’ve been toying with the idea for a while, but the pandemic made contactless services more common, making it easier to move to that option this year.

While cash is accepted in some parts of the festival, major credit cards or festival cards are the norm for a majority of the vendors.

There’s also a greater emphasis on sanitation at the festival, such as individually wrapped cutlery and more access to hand sanitizer.