WATERTOWN — The Bravo Italiano Festival returned this weekend after having been canceled last year due to COVID-19.

Vendors, students and volunteers started packing the Watertown Municipal Arena at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds Saturday morning, after the festival’s first day on Friday yielded a good turnout.

“Last night was a good crowd,” said Ron T. Quartulli, a volunteer setting up Saturday morning. “It’s nice to see people getting out again.”

Mr. Quartulli was one of the many volunteers, many of whom are part of the Italian American Civic Association club, who really made the event happen. He prefers wine with his Italian food, but there were distilleries and breweries vending there as well, as home-cooked chefs prepared sausages, meatballs, pasta, hot peppers and cannolis.

There was even face painting and balloon art set up, with the mother-son tandem of Melina Kilpatrick and Noah Ramer. Mr. Ramer is a 23-year-old SUNY Oswego student who has been paying his way through college with his balloon animal work. He said he’s asked all the time for a bicycle, referencing a scene in the movie “Wedding Crashers.”

“I can’t watch the movie anymore,” he said. “No I’m kidding. I love doing this.”

The 36th Bravo festival was capped off with a dance Saturday evening, with live music and dinner.

“I call them the old-timers. My dad, he’s gone now, but they started this thing,” Mr. Quartulli said. “And now we’re the next generation, and hopefully we’ll be able to pass on to the next generation.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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