SOUTHINGTON – The community has come together to celebrate Italian-American culture again this weekend.

Sponsored by Sons of Italy, Southington UNICO and women’s group Sorelle d’Italia, the annual Italian-American festival started on Saturday and continued through Sunday night on Center Street.

The event was canceled last year due to the pandemic. Organizers said they didn’t want another year to go by without a festival.

“It’s to keep the tradition alive,” said David Zoni, UNICO representative on the festivals committee.

Singers Aaron Caruso and Graziano Lazzaro performed on Saturday night, singing Italian and American classics.

The Sunday morning celebration began with an Italian mass followed by a procession of the Madonna statue downtown.

During the celebration, visitors sampled food from catering tents run by non-profit groups.

“It’s a great place and a great celebration to attend to reconnect with your legacy,” said Aria Gallo, a Southington resident. “I also like knowing that when I spend money here, they go to a good cause.”

Donna Rancourt, who was present with her husband Dewayne, said attending Italian festivals made her happy and ‘warm inside’.

“I am Italian and I grew up with Italians …” said Rancourt. “Every year we research these events and the one in Southington is just great.”

Several visitors praised the festival for its music and thanked the organizers for creating a “positive vibe” in the city.

“I was so upset when the festival was canceled last year,” said local resident Lucia Conti. “This festival is so inclusive, it welcomes everyone and I feel like it really unites our community.”