It was a weekend of homemade delicacies, traditional dialect and old-school entertainment here in Shepparton.
The Shepparton Italian Festa was held for the first time on Saturday and community members gathered to celebrate the best aspects that make up Italian heritage.
From Italian memorabilia to traditional costumes and live entertainment, Italian culture was brought to life.
I have an Italian background and I was pleased when I first heard the event was coming to Shepparton.
We are fortunate to have a number of strong cultures in this town, and for people to be able to celebrate each and every one is something we should be proud of.
The Italian Festa managed to bring together all of the great elements I think of when acknowledging my heritage: food, family and fun times.
Every celebratory milestone is marked with a feast — homemade pasta, salami, bread and desserts are regulars at family gatherings, with food being a way to bring everyone together at important times to enjoy a meal.
As with most cultures, family is of the utmost importance to Italians. You’re raised to celebrate and respect the eldest members of your family, and acknowledge the great support and guidance family members can provide.
Then there’s the fun times: a staple at any wedding is traditional music, such as the tarantella. Every Italian wedding I have been to has resulted in a stampede on the dance floor when the MC announces the crowd favourite.
While I was devouring my arancini balls and cannoli at the Festa at the weekend, I admired all these great elements in action.
People young and old of different races and ethnicities gathered to share food and dance and make lasting memories.
The Italian Festa is not the first of its kind in the area.
The Shepparton Albanian Harvest Festival and the St Georges Rd Food Festival celebrate other cultures in our town.
It is important to celebrate the unique qualities that make up each of our individual cultures, and share them with each other.
These traditions give us a sense of our heritage and of belonging. They bring families together, reinforce values and celebrate our individuality.
I hope to learn more about other cultures within our community, and I hope people out there learned something about mine.
Liz Mellino is a News journalist.