ADDISON – Onesti's Little Italy Fest-West will kick off its seventh year in Addison on Thursday.
"As wonderful as the typical local festivals are, this is not that," said Ron Onesti, who decided to bring a version of the festival he's been running in Chicago for more than 25 years to the suburbs.
While many of the traditional Little Italy Fest draws will return this year, including the homemade food, Italian entertainers from across the country and, of course, a carnival, Onesti is excited about one special guest.
On Saturday and Sunday evenings, Deana Martin – that's right, Dean's daughter – will take the stage.
"There's so many people who love the Italian experience who have settled out here in the western suburbs," said Onesti, who expects 20,000 to 25,000 attendees this year.
Onesti said many of the fest's entertainers are from the Chicago area, but many also come from around the country.
Another big attraction this year will be a $100,000 fireworks show just before rock trio The Bronx Wanderers' finale performance.
"If I'm not the largest, it'll be close to the largest in Illinois," Onesti said of the fireworks show, which was added to the festival last year.
Onesti boasts the event is family-oriented because it's safe, clean and fun for all ages. He's seen family reunions at the festival.
"It's more than just a festival. It's like an old neighborhood block party," Onesti said.
In addition to musical entertainment, attendees can enjoy comedians, juggling and magic while visiting the annual event.
Addison police and firefighters will test their skills with a grape stomp contest Saturday, and spectators can watch a wresting exhibition Sunday.
With all the attractions and excitement Onesti's sure will fill Addison's Centennial Park throughout the weekend, he looks forward to the same few moments every year.
"There's a time when everything's going smooth," Onesti said.
That's when he pauses to look around and take in the scenes of the festival. He said he sees grandfathers playing bocce ball with their grandkids, people hugging and families enjoying time together.
Those are his favorite moments, Onesti explained, watching people enjoy the festival.
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If you go
What: Onesti's Little Italy Fest-West
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Centennial Park, Lake Street and Route 53
Admission: Free admission Thursday; $8 for adults, kids under 12 are free, $20 for unlimited rides Friday through Sunday
Parking: Free at Marcus Theatre, 1555 W. Lake St.
Info: 630-962-7000 or www.oshows.com
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6 p.m. Tony Ocean
8:30 p.m. The 70s Project from NYC
5 p.m. Jack Miuccio Band
7 p.m. Diva Montell and Jeorge Holmes
9 p.m. Diamanti
3 p.m. Vince Amore
4:15 p.m. Jack D'Amico
5 p.m. Police versus firefighters grape stomp
5:15 p.m. Comedian Pat Capuzzi
6:15 p.m. Dick Contino with Pete and Deidre Contino
7:30 p.m. Ray Massa's Eurorhythms
9 p.m. Deana Martin
9:15 p.m. The Bronx Wanderers
1 p.m. Joe Martino
2:15 p.m. Nick Pontarelli
3:30 p.m. Vito Zatto
4 p.m. Meatball wrestling
4:30 p.m. Joyce Garro
5:45 p.m. Dick Contino with Pete and Deidre Contino
7 p.m. Ray Massa's Eurorhythms
8 p.m. Deana Martin
8:20 p.m. The Bronx Wanderers
9:15 p.m. Fireworks
9:40 p.m. The Bronx Wanderers