Event set March 2 at the Rebekah Lodge in Old Town

{img:33767}Not long ago, restaurant owners Angelisa and Mimmo Russo decided they wanted to bring a taste of Italy to Old Town Sherwood.

And nothing says fun more than a carnival, specifically an official Italian Carnevale.

“We basically wanted to bring together an event celebrating Italian culture to our region and highlight all the best of that — food, drink, farming, music, theater, art, literature,” said Angelisa, who along with Mimmo, own Da Mimmo restaurant.

As a result, the carnevale is planned for Sunday, March 2, at the Sherwood Rebekah Lodge from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The event is free with costs associated only with purchases of food, drinks, Italian art and photography. Carnevale-goers can also purchase raffle tickets for Italian-themed prizes.

{img:33768}Angelisa said she recently met with Bill Galbreath, who comes from one of the oldest farming families in Sherwood, and found his story fascinating. She was surprised to learn that not many residents know much about the Italians who came to farm in Sherwood, at one time making the area one of the top exporters of onions in the country. Cipole Road is a remnant of that Italian culture with cipolla meaning onion in Italian.

Angelisa said her husband Mimmo plans on cooking up a storm at the March event including a handmade gnocchi with pork ragu sauce (both regular and gluten-free). There will be Italian pastries and drinks to boot.

Mimmo actually comes from a farming background, having grown up in Monte di Procidea, Italy, said Angelisa. His brother Tullio still organizes that town’s annual Italian Carnevale which features a large procession through the city along with a variety of floats.

Mimmo, who is the chief cook at Da Mimmo, said he’s excited about the event, especially with the fact he’ll get to cook traditional dishes.

The Russos have purchased pork from Tails and Trotters of Portland, the Pacific Northwest's first signature pork producer developed from pork finished on local hazelnuts.

“Usually when there is a carnival in Italy we use pork,” he said.

Duccio Sal Tagliaferri, a professional photographer from Tualatin, will have his photography on exhibit and for sale at the carnevale. Tagliaferri, a former Naples, Italy, resident, said he still recalls the carnevale days of his youth, especially the long lines of floats and the tradition of wearing a masks.

“People go out in the street,” he said. “It’s kind of like Halloween (is) here but it’s a week long.”

Sherwood’s Italian Carnevale times and events will include:

12:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Food and drink, vendor tables, a kids craft table for mask making, raffle.

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Anton Belov will be singing selected Italian opera pieces and Neapolitan songs. Painter Jen Harlow will performance paint an original work while Anton sings.

2:30 to 3:00: Children's book reading of "Tino and the Pomodori" with local author, Tonya Russo Hamilton

Belov, a noted opera singer, will sing selections from Italian operas, and most likely, a version of the Italian staple “O sole mio” is expected to be sung by a variety of singers including Mimmo.

Meanwhile, Sherwood author Tonya Russo Hamilton will read from her new children’s book, “Tino and the Pomodori,” a book that tells the story of her father growing up in Italy and looking forward to his favorite time of year — the tomato harvest.

“Al’s Garden has donated potting soil and seeds and the real Tino (Tonya’s father Tony) will do a seed-planting activity with the kids following the reading,” said Angelisa. “The illustrator of the book, Britta Nicholson, (a Tigard resident), will also be there to flip her beautifully rendered images while Tonya reads.”

Hamilton previously penned “Wrestling with the Devil,” the story of her father coming from his native Naples, Italy, via ocean liner and the difficulties he encountered when he landed in New York where he didn’t speak a word of English.

For more information on the Italian Carnevale, visit Da Mimmo on Facebook.

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