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Little Italy Festival Canceled Again Because Of COVID-19, Worker Shortages

Canceling was one “of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make," one organizer wrote. But it's expected to return in 2022.

The Little Italy Festival, which includes Italian dancing and more than 60 musical performances, has been canceled for the second year in a row.
Chicago's Little Italy Festa/ Facebook
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LITTLE ITALY —  Chicago’s Little Italy Festa has been canceled for the second year in a row.

The Little Italy Chicago Neighborhood Association and Onesti Entertainment announced they would forgo the annual Taylor Street festival until 2022.

With increasing uncertainty because of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, the organizers said they didn’t want to overburden restaurants and businesses dealing with labor shortages.

“So many of our restaurant vendors are struggling with employees and are now just getting back into the game. Part of the reason why we do this event is to help the businesses, not hurt them,” Ron Onesti, founder of Onesti Entertainment wrote in a Facebook post.

The organizers canceled the festival last summer because of the coronavirus. Other neighborhood festivals — including the Taste of RandolphLogan Square Arts FestivalMidsommarfest in Andersonville, the Silver Room Block Party and Do Division — have also canceled this year’s events because of uncertainty around the pandemic and not having enough time to plan.

The four-day festival is usually held in August. It celebrates Italian heritage with live music, Italian dancing, food offerings and a meatball and pizza-eating contest.

Canceling the festival for the second year in a row was one “of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. But sometimes you have to listen to your gut and tough decisions are what’s needed when the greater good is at stake,” Onesti said.

In announcing the cancellation, the Little Italy Neighborhood Association said the “setback was a function of the times.”

Onesti and the neighborhood association said they look forward toward’s next year’s festival.

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