Delaware’s largest outdoor cultural festival is back in full swing

The St. Anthony’s Italian Festival in Wilmington is in full swing after 2 years of almost complete pandemic shutdown.

Anthony Albence is a parish administrator and a member of the festival’s steering committee. He says that although this year is a bit different from previous years, the festival is basically back to normal.

“In 2020 we had to cancel the event completely, in 2021 we ran a very scaled down and modified event week, which was basically a take-out event, and we ran it festival week,” said explained Albence. “It was a shortened event, not the full 8 days. So this is the first time we’ve done the full traditional festival since 2019.”

And the principal of Saint Anthony of Padua Primary School, Judy White, says it’s good news for the school, which relies heavily on the money raised.

“In fact, 100% of the profits from this event go directly to the primary school. So without it having been there for 2 years, we had to apply for the Payroll Protection Plan,” White said. “So luckily we were able to do that, but that’s sold out now, so we need 8 sunny days and nights!”

Although the festival is largely the same as in 2019, the pandemic has brought some notable changes.

One change is that the festival is now almost entirely cashless.

Albence says they’ve toyed with the idea for a while, but the pandemic has made contactless services more mainstream, making it easier to switch to that option this year.

Although cash is accepted in some parts of the festival, major credit cards or festival cards are the norm for the majority of vendors.

There is also an emphasis on sanitation at the festival, such as individually wrapped cutlery and better access to hand sanitizer.

Darcy J. Skinner