LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — The third annual Arkansas Italian Food and Wine Festival presented by Relyance Bank is scheduled for April 29 through May 1 at the Penick Boys & Girls Club in Little Rock. The event will feature three days of Italian food, culture, wine, as well as arts and crafts, demonstrations, a kids’ zone and musical acts. 

Some of Arkansas’ best Italian food offerings will be available from local restaurants including:

  • The Rock Brick Oven Pizza.
  • Raduno.
  • Vino’s.
  • Grafitti’s.
  • Boulevard.
  • Le Pops, & Repicci’s Italian Ice.

The event will also cater to the competitive spirit as teams will compete in bocce, grape stomping and a sauce cooking contest. The wildly popular waiter’s race will be returning on Sunday afternoon featuring local waiters and bartenders hustling with trays stocked with glasses and bottles in the hopes of taking home the top prize of $1000 cash.

Teams can sign up for bocce ($2,000 first place prize), sauce cooking contest ($500 first place prize) and the waiter’s race ($1,000 first place prize) here until Noon on Friday, April 29. A special outdoor Mass will be celebrated by Father Patrick Friend on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. and all are welcome to attend. 

“Relyance Bank is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the third annual Italian Food & Wine festival benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arkansas,” said David Straessle, Relyance Bank Central Arkansas Market President. “We realize the impact of giving back to non-profits. The Boys & Girls Clubs are playing a crucial role in providing programing, mentoring and a safe space for the youth in our community.”

Exclusive wine tastings will be held two nights of the festival from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 and will feature upwards of 50 wines from Italian producers and Italian-American owned producers. Tickets are $35 and will include entry into the festival.

A complete schedule of events is available here.

Festival hours are as follows:

  • Friday, April 29 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 30 from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 1st: 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
  • Mass at 10:00 a.m. Sunday.

Wine Tasting Schedule:

Friday, April 29 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Additional Ticket Required.

Saturday, April 30 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Additional Ticket Required.

The Arkansas Italian Food and Wine Festival will also feature a “Taste of Italy” dinner on Thursday, April 28 at Chenal Country Club. The multi-course creative culinary experience will feature wines from Tuscany and the Veneto paired with dishes from all around Italy.

The menu will include five courses hand selected and prepared by Chenal’s Chef Patrick Carter and paired as follows:

  • Zonin 1821 Prosecco Cuvee, Veneto with Arancini and meats and cheeses.
  • Rocca di Montemassi Vermentino Calasole, Maremma Toscana with Spring Vegetable Risotto.
  • Castello di Albola Chianti Classico, Toscana with Pork Sugo (pancetta, pork shoulder, fennel, lightly braised with vegetables in a light red sauce) served over Polenta Castello di Albola Accialola Super.
  • Tuscan IGT, Toscana with Leg of Lamb in fig sauce served with Broccolini.
  • Zonin Prosecco Rose, Veneto with Berries and Whipped Mascarpone.

In addition to the food and wine pairing, the evening will include silent and live auctions as well as entertainment. Individual tickets ($125) and tables ($1,000) are available for purchase here.

100 percent of the proceeds from the Arkansas Italian Food and Wine Festival will go to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of central Arkansas. The Boys and Girls Clubs of central Arkansas serves 8,000 youngsters at six clubs, four in Little Rock and two in North Little Rock. At just over 100 years in existence, the organization is the 8th oldest Boys and Girls Club in the United States and has produced more national youth of the year winners than any other club. 

Tickets for the festival are $10 per day and $15 for a weekend pass. Children 10-years-old and under are admitted free throughout the weekend. 

With thousands expected to attend the festival, more information regarding event sponsorships is available here. Individuals interested in volunteering at the event can sign up here. To see previous festival highlights, view the video here.

For more information, please visit the event festival website at www.aritalianfestival.com or contact Vanessa Russell by email at vrussell@arclubs.org or call (501)-680-5599, or Justin Acri at justin@103thebuzz.com or (501)-258-2241.