Italian Heritage Festival brings back memories of mom's cooking

The art of making Italian food will be shared at the Italian Heritage Festival on Sept. 22 at Shelter Cove Community Park, Hilton Head Island.

Members of the Italian American Club of Hilton Head Island will teach festivalgoers how to make biscotti, Italian sausage, pizzelle and wine.

Festival organizer John Pagluica said the annual event takes him back to childhood holidays when his mother would serve seemingly endless portions of his favorites: fried ravioli, chocolate-filled pastries and deep-fried cannolis.

"We would sit down at the table, and the food would just keep on coming," he said.

The same will happen at the festival, where area restaurants will serve Italian dishes, including gelato and Italian ice.

Pagluica's wife, Judi, describes the festival as "down-home Italian food, traditional Italian food and some eclectic food with a modern spin on Italian foods."

John Pagluica said about 3,500 people attended last year's event, and this year the group is expected to be just as large.

More music will be featured this year with a Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra chorus sing-along and a strolling accordion player.

Pagluica recommends getting there early for the zeppoles and cannolis -- foods that generally draw very long lines.

The spaghetti-eating contest returns this year at 2 p.m., and will be followed by a new pizza-eating contest featuring selected members from each of the four football teams in southern Beaufort County -- Hilton Head Island High School, Bluffton High School, Hilton Head Christian Academy and Hilton Head Preparatory School.

Grape-stomping, golf-chipping, a dunking booth and pizza wheel also return this year.

The club's goal is to raise money for local charities and scholarships for area students. In 2011, the group raised $32,000.

"There will be enough variety there that your tastebuds will be quenched," Pagluica said.


Italian American Club of Hilton Head