Volunteer Joan Graves moved quickly through the crowd seated under a Festa Italiana tent Friday, clearing away napkins and empty water bottles before cleaning tables with a sanitizer and paper towels.
Graves, who is from Boy Scouts Troop 402 in Bradford, was just one of dozens of volunteers with nonprofit organizations who help each year at Festa Italiana booths and tables on Festival Way in downtown Bradford.
Graves, who assists her husband and the scouts with clean-up work and restocking of coolers at the festival, said they enjoy helping at the event as the troop receives a donation from Festa Italiana for their efforts.
“We’ve done this for many years, probably 14 or 15 years,” Graves said while pausing in her work. “(Festa Italiana) gives a generous donation, which is part of the profits given to all the groups that work here. And it’s a great fundraiser and community service for our scouts.”
A booth that sells Festa Italiana T-shirts, aprons, flags, hats and other keepsakes was manned by Bradford Area High School cross country coaches Tom Tessena and Mark Kelley, who represented the booster club with three of their student team members.
When asked how long the booster club has helped at the festival, Tessena replied, “When I first started, I still had hair.”
On a more serious note, he said the boosters have volunteered at the festival for 10 to 12 years, and in return receive a donation for the cross country team.
“We also cut peppers and onions on Tuesday” for the festival, Kelley commented. In addition, the team typically helps set up tents for the event.
At one of the ticket booths, volunteer Pat Buccolini said he was providing his services on behalf of the McKean County Habitat for Humanity. Assisting at the table was volunteer Hank Curley.
“(Festa Italiana) give us a little donation” which helps Habitat, Buccolini explained, noting he enjoys the work because he gets to visit with community members and “have fun and goof around.”
At the muffaletta sandwich and rigatoni booth, Kassera Owens and Ali Rinfrette were volunteering their time on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Owens, who is the new interim coach for the women’s basketball team, said the work was enjoyable.
“It’s a nice way to get involved in the community,” Owens said.
Across the lane, a group from CNB Bank was volunteering their time at another ticket booth.
“We’re just volunteering” for the event as a community service, said employee Melissa Brooks. “But it’s nice to see people that we don’t see all the time.”
The festival will be held again today and will include food, music, games and entertainment. Activities from noon to 3 p.m. will include Marshall, Pikachu, Minions and Spider-Man meet and greets; music by Freddy and the Jets from 1 to 5 p.m.; Rock Maninov live band music from 6 to 9 p.m.; and Witch Hazel live band music from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fireworks will be held around 10 p.m.