Feast of Saint Mark offers food and family fun

Published 6:02 pm Friday, April 17, 2015

The Feast of Saint Mark Italian Food Festival offers fun and food for all. (Contributed)

The Feast of Saint Mark Italian Food Festival offers fun and food for all. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY—Get ready for a day of fun, games and food as the Feast of Saint Mark Italian Food Festival returns for a fourth year on Saturday, April 25 at Saint Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church.

The annual event falls on the Catholic feast day of Saint Mark, and brings authentic Italian culture to North Shelby.

“We try to keep it as authentic as we can,” event organizer Robert Sbrissa said, adding the event aims to “share the Italian culture that is so rich.”

The church grounds will be transformed into the “Piazza San Marco” for the event, with tents each housing a variety of activities and entertainment.

“The key thing about (the Feast of Saint Mark Italian Food Festival) is it really was created for families,” Sbrissa said. “The cool thing is, there’s something for everybody. We get all kinds of people that come and participate.”

Beginning at 3:30 p.m., the event features “activities for the whole family,” Sbrissa said, from a youth area complete with face painting, glitter tattoos and rides to authentic Italian games, such as bocce ball.

The main stage will host live entertainment throughout the day, including a Dean Martin impersonator, two bands, members of Opera Birmingham and Italian dancers from Dance South.

And don’t forget the food, the feast will have traditional Italian treats such as “freshly filled cannolis,” authentic Italian espresso and more than 5,000 home-baked Italian cookies.

Attendants will also enjoy a multi-course, traditional Italian meal prepared by various restaurants across the Birmingham area.

“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Italian food,” Sbrissa said with a laugh.

The history of the Feast of Saint Mark Italian Food Festival stretches back to the early 1900s and the original Saint Mark Catholic Church outside of Ensley. In 2012, parishioners at the current Cahaba Valley Road location wanted to revive the tradition.

“Everybody wanted to have an original Italian feast, like the original Saint Mark’s had years ago,” Sbrissa said. “We have people who are in their 80s who say, ‘We met at the original Feast of Saint Mark 50 years ago, and we’re so glad to have it back now.’”

The event will take place at Saint Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, 7340 Cahaba Valley Road. Event parking will be at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen. Tickets for the event cost $20 for adults and $10 for children, and can be purchased online at Feastofstmark.com.