In 1895, Italian immigrants left Genoa to escape high taxes, overcrowding, food scarcity, political unrest and war. Father Pietro Bandini joined the immigrants in America. They found a farm near Springdale with about 40 families and named it Tontitown for Henri de Tonti, who established the first colony in Arkansas.
A harvest in 1898 resulted in a celebration and the tastiest meals the settlers’ meager provisions would allow. That first frolic in the woods stemmed the Grape Festival of today.