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The Italian Festival, Sept. 26-27

Seattle Center Festál:  The Italian Festival features family fun and Italian indulgences, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sept. 26 – 27, in Seattle Center Armory, Fisher Pavilion, and Seattle Center Pavilion. Stomp grapes, toss a pizza, learn to cook Italian food, compete in a bocce tournament and celebrate the joy of “all things Italian,” from opera and popular music to pasta and wine.

The festival celebrates 28 years at Seattle Center with a performance by Mbrascatu, a nationally recognized indie “tarantella rock” band from Portland, Ore. Other musical highlights include performances by the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra, Julie Cascioppo, Danny Quintero, Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band, Italian Choir of British Columbia and The Porcaro Group. Students from Cinquegranelli Montessori open the festival with song and dance, continuing a 25-year tradition.

Cooking demonstrations run every hour throughout the weekend on the Great Italian Chefs stage. Brian Gojdics of Tutta Bella, Frank Isernio of Isernio’s Sausage, Luigi DeNunzio of Al Boccalino and Café Bengodi and Enza Sorrentino of Mondello are among the local chefs presenting. Special guest Nick Stellino, host of “Cooking with Nick Stellino” on KCTS 9, leads two cooking demonstrations at 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. A marketplace serves pizza, pasta, Italian sausage, salami, meatballs, focaccia, espresso and gelato. Italian beer and wine are also offered.

The “Taste of Italy” wine tasting and reception begins Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Armory. Tickets for the 21+ event are $25 per person in advance or $30 per person at the door. Each ticket includes a souvenir wineglass and five two-ounce wine pours. Sparkling water, bread, Italian antipasti and crudités accompany the tasting. Bottles and cases of wine are available for purchase and delivery.

Children’s activities include puppy parades featuring Italian breeds, pizza tossing, tile painting, face painting and a bouncy castle. The Carter Family Marionettes from the Northwest Puppet Center present “Columbina’s Birthday,” a puppet show featuring Arlecchino and other Commedia dell’Arte characters at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday in Seattle Center Pavilion.

Other festival attractions include a display of classic Italian cars, scooters and motorcycles, a grape stomping competition, bocce tournaments, a juried art show and an exhibition of historical photographs.

 Seattle Center Festál is a program of Seattle Center Productions. Admission is free-of-charge. For more information on The Italian Festival and other Seattle Center public programming, click on or call 206 684-7200.