After months of organizing, the Cape Fear Italian Festival finally got underway Saturday at Cross Creek Commons Shopping Center on US 17 in Leland. The big crowd early had a chance to enjoy Italian treats like cannoli and sausage and peppers, as well as the sounds of the US Marine Corps 2nd Marine Division Band.
"It was a great turnout before the rain," said Frank Bullara, one of the festival's organizers, who are hoping for a sunnier Sunday for day two of the festival.
The rain Saturday started just before 1 p.m. as the Marine Band wrapped up. Some of the crowd, estimated at upwards of one-thousand people, tried to wait it out, taking refuge under overhangs, in the beer garden or in the covered booths of the 50 or so festival vendors. After about an hour, the rain started to let up before a downpour began again. With no end of precipitation in sight, the festival staff finally made what was for them a tough decision to call it a day around 4 p.m.
"It was very disappointing; disheartening to say the least," said Mike Forte, a member of the festival's executive committee. "The crowd was building and having a good time. The music was great. People were having fun. It was sinful that we had to do it. Hopefully we do better tomorrow, God smiles on us and the weather will cooperate. Hopefully people will come out, shop, enjoy the music and food and have a good time again."
WWAY ESP3 meteorologist Tim Buckley says Sunday's forecast looks much better for the festival's second day. So the show will go on starting at noon.
For more information about the Cape Fear Italian Festival and Sunday's schedule, visit http://www.CapeFearItalianFestival.com.