In what is believed to be a first for the 46-year-old Italian Street Fair, an actual Italian attended the event last weekend. Giuseppi Voltonio, a native of Naples, found himself separated from the rest of his tour group at the Nashville International Airport recently. While the group went on to St. Louis, alternative travel arrangements were being made for Voltonio. In the meantime, he was spending the weekend at the Holiday Inn across the street from Centennial Park.
Curious at the large crowds in the park, he ventured from his hotel and was surprised to find himself at an allegedly Italian-themed event. Organizers of the fair were stunned at the presence of a real Italian. “We couldn’t believe it,” one official said. “A real Italian! I’d never seen one before, except on television.” Through a translator, Voltonio said that he very much enjoyed the Friday performance of Jason and the Scorchers. “It was a very high-energy performance,” he said, “though not very Italian.”
Among the other activities the Neapolitan participated in were having a sno-cone, looking at a painting of a barn at an arts-and-crafts booth, and riding a Ferris wheel, activities which he described respectively as “refreshing but not very Italian,” “pretty, but not very Italian,” and “fun, but not very Italian.”
The Street Fair, a traditional Labor Day weekend benefit for the Nashville Symphony, also featured entertainment by the R&B group the Spinners, the Nelsons (the extremely blond sons of singer Rick Nelson), and Chely Wrighta lineup which Voltonio characterized as “star-studded, but not Italian.”
As part of an apparent one-man attempt to inject some cultural authenticity into the event, Voltonio posed for several pictures with fairgoers in something of an impromptu “Get Your Picture Made With an Italian” attraction.
“It makes me feel good to have brought a little bit of Italy to the Italian Street Fair,” he said with a broad smile. “Maybe next year I come back with my whole family.”
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