Fort Mill Times

Italian festival kicks off in Fort Mill this week!

Final preparations are in high gear, as the St. Philip Neri parish readies for the opening of its 14th Annual Benvenuti! Italian Festival May 14-16.

Festivities kick off with a special "Grown-Ups Night Out" Thursday featuring all

the usual homemade Italian dishes, variety of vendors, auctions and more.

New features this year include: an advance-ticket "Winetasting Under the Stars," a bocci tournament and live classical and opera performances offered in the Main Hall dining room.

Friday night's Family Night will be opened once again by Dora and Diego from

Carowinds, who grand marshal the children's costume parade and crown the 2009 Li'l Prince and Princess Benvenuti. Rides and games begin that night, as well as entertainment for people of all ages.

Saturday is all-day fun with all of the food, events, vendors, rides and games in

full swing. Silent Auction bids will close at 5:30 p.m. and the live auction, with Allan Miller of WRHI-AM/FM, will start at 6 p.m. The second annual Italian Idol Talent contestants start competing at 1 p.m. Saturday on the outdoor stage. Cash and prizes will be awarded to Senior and Junior divisions by celebrity judges after all 14 Finalists have performed.

The finalist acts are: Connor Murray and Michael Bartres (Tega Cay); Dalton Bridges, Bethany Nichols, Holly Nichols, Amber Dulin, Rosemary Marino, Amanda Becker, Nicole Ernst, Justin Sebastyan, Angela Schmugge, Chris Mitchell band, Brittney

Huffman (all of Fort Mill); Amanda Moak (Gastonia); and Devon Vleck (Columbia).

For more information and directions, visit click on "Italian Fest."