San Rocco returns this weekend

“Una Festa per Tutti!”

Sarnia’s San Rocco Festival is called the “festival for everyone” because it serves up a slice of Italian heritage for all of Sarnia to enjoy.

The event at the Clearwater Arena features live bands and dancing, games for the kids and Italian food and beverage booths Aug. 9 and 10.

Now in its 42nd year, the festival began when a group of Italian immigrants decided to recreate the traditions of their homeland in Sarnia, said president Paul Caschera.

San Rocco is the patron saint of the sick, and a statue of him is carried in a solemn procession to honour his protection.

“They still do it in Italy, and now we do the same thing here,” Caschera said.

Beyond the religious component, the festival is a celebration of life with bocci and soccer and food and drink, he said.

Live music and dancing gets under way Saturday with the band “Paradise” from Windsor playing 7 p.m. to midnight.

“Fantasia” provides the music Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., with a ‘partners dance’ contest at 9 p.m.

Men and women’s bocce tournaments run all weekend, with registration 11:30 a.m. Saturday. All are welcome.

Children’s games, face painting and inflatables go Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

The festival was originally based at St. Peter’s Church, moved to the Dante Club, then Centennial Park and has now found a home at the Clearwater Arena, 1400 Wellington St.

San Rocco was reputably born of French nobility in the 13th century and cared for victims of the plague while on pilgrimage to Rome. According to legend, he became sick himself but was nursed back to health by a dog that licked his wounds and brought him food in the woods.

The procession will follow Sunday mass at the arena.

– Journal Staff