hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

Arts & Entertainment

September 21, 2011

Italy to take over downtown

Annual Italian festival is Sunday

A little bit of Italy is coming to Haverhill.

The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce invites everyone from the Merrimack Valley to take part in the city's annual North of the North End Italian Festival.

The free event will be Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The majority of events will take place in the parking lot behind The Tap Restaurant at 100 Washington Street, next to the city's boardwalk along the Merrimack River.

Bringing the experience of the old country close to home, festival-goers will feel like they've been transported to a street in Rome with live music from the Italian Serenaders, a Bocce tournament and plenty of locally made Italian food.

Two new attractions this year are wine tasting with samples from local vineyards and art and architecture Walking Tours of the downtown.

Those who want to sample wine from local vineyards can also take in the music of violinist Matthew Hevesh, who will offer his string covers of classical operas and cultural songs.

Hevesh, who previously played at Trattoria Amalfi in Salem, N.H., before going to college at Keene State College, said playing at last year's festival justified his 10 years of focusing on the violin.

"It made me feel like I was playing for a reason," he said. "I think it will be even better this year."

Families can also take part in face and venetian mask painting provide by the International Institute of Child Care.

Two popular competitions will also return this year as well.

Forty marinara sauce chefs will compete in the annual Spaghetti Sauce Challenge in both meat and meatless categories.

This year, winners will be determined by popular vote.

Four-time meatless sauce champion MaryAnn Zito, who joined at the urging of her children years ago, plans to defend her title with her signature sweet sauce.

"It has become a tradition," she said. "I only wish my grandchildren would try my sauce."

The Miss Italy competition will also return once more, challenging any young women between the ages of 16 and 25 to compete for a valuable scholarship prize. Competitors must prove they're at least half-Italian to compete.

More information on the festival and registration for the Spaghetti Sauce Competition or Miss Italy Pageant are available at haverhillchamber.com.

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