Eat, drink, be a com­mu­nity

The fourth an­nual cel­e­bra­tion on Church Hill con­tin­ues to­day

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - Metro& State - BY PENE­LOPE M. CAR­RING­TON

Mes­mer­ize Wilk­er­son and Ashley Slat­tery dis­agree about the best place to get a tem­po­rary tat­too at the Rich­mond Ital­ian Street Fes­ti­val, but the step­sis­ters share taste in food.

Both claimed Ital­ian sausage as their fa­vorite from yes­ter­day’s tempt­ing se­lec­tion that in­cluded can­noli, chicken and egg­plant kabobs, cheese tortellini pesto, gar­lic knots and fried cala­mari.

“ We just walk around try­ing ev­ery­thing out,” said Mes­mer­ize, a Her­mitage High School fresh­man.

That in­cluded the Gy­ro­sphere, a ride whose “ three mov­ing axes sim­u­lated weight­less­ness” with calo­rie- burn­ing side ef­fects. Ac­cord­ing to the sign, five min­utes of strapped- in spin­ning was equal to a 30- minute aer­o­bic work­out— not that the girls cared.

“ We also like com­ing for the so­cial gath­er­ing,”

From Page Mes­mer­ize said.

Ashley, a Brook­land Mid­dle School stu­dent, nod­ded in agree­ment.

That was a sen­ti­ment shared by many yes­ter­day at the fourth an­nual event that brings Italy to Church Hill, with wine, mu­sic, ven­dors and food. The fes­ti­val con­tin­ues to­day from 11 a. m. to 6 p. m. on East Broad Street be­tween 23rd and 26th streets. There is a $2 do­na­tion to en­ter.

“ I’m not Ital­ian . . . but it’s a way for peo­ple to get to know their neigh­bors and area busi­nesses,” said Kirsten Gray. The fes­ti­val reg­u­lar lives in the area and owns the Eric Schindler Gallery at 23rd and East Broad streets.

“ I love hang­ing out on my porch with my fam­ily and see­ing all the peo­ple walk­ing by, and, of course, my kids love the fes­ti­val. . . . [ Plus] the move­ment is be­com­ing more lo­cal, where peo­ple are do­ing their shop­ping, eat­ing and school­ing in neigh­bor­hoods.”

Belle­vue Ele­men­tary School’s prin­ci­pal, Sherry Whar­ton- Carey, who helped staff the school’s ta­ble with Gray, said the event also of­fers vis­i­tors a chance to learn some Ital­ian his­tory. A few ta­bles down, Gerri Legum was en­joy­ing her ed­u­ca­tion.

The Beijo bag sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive said she couldn’t re­sist an in­vi­ta­tion to set up a ta­ble at the fes­ti­val.

“ I had never even heard of it,” she said. “ But I thought, ‘ How can an Ital­ian fes­ti­val not be fun?’ ”

P. KEVIN MOR­LEY/ TIMES- DIS­PATCH

Carol DaVia showed vis­i­tors an Ital­ian pas­try as she helped at a booth at the Rich­mond Ital­ian Street Fes­ti­val yes­ter­day.

P. KEVIN MOR­LEY/ TIMES- DIS­PATCH

So­phie Bar­rafato ( left), 10, shared her ge­lato with sis­ter Brit­tany, 13, dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Ital­ian fes­ti­val on Church Hill. The event has food, wine, mu­sic and ven­dors.

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