Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Our First Festa

This past weekend Tallahassee saw it’s first (annual? only the future will tell) Italian Family Festa out at the John Paul II Catholic High School. I found out about the Festa through Groupon, which turns out to be a fabulous resource for learning about local businesses and events, not just saving money at them.

With the Greek Food Festival an annual event that we dearly love, we hoped the Italian Family Festa would come close to that ideal.

Italian Family Festa

As a first-year festival there were some expected hiccups. The website, for instance, was a little sparse on details (it would have been nice to know what sorts of foods would be there, not just a list of Italian foods that might be there, and a price-list is always helpful for folks who don’t carry cash as a habit) and, once we arrived it took being sent to 3 different tables/locations just to find out where to sign up for the wine tasting.

Italian Family Fest Wine

Those bumps aside, we had a good time. The wine tasting (at $10 a person) was more a class than just a taste-for-all, featuring 6 Italian wines and a very good presenter–he had personality to spare and plenty of ways to make wine relatable, always a good pairing. It was held in the school’s gymnasium, though, and was not the only activity going on in the space, making a little hard to hear.

Various entertainment was scheduled throughout the weekend and we had fun listening to the singer perform pop hits. Funny, we didn’t know songs like Firework and Seasons of Love were inherently Italian 😉

But, wait, what about the food?

There was a stand selling meatball subs and sausages–we each chose the latter with peppers and onions. Lots of fennel and very tasty. There was a local New York-style pizza place with a stand and, finally, a stand selling Fried Doughnuts (zeppole? though I’m not sure how authentic they were), calamari (they were out by the time we tried to order some), mozzarella sticks (pass), funnel cakes and steamed mussels. There were also cannoli available at a table, inside. The cannoli were the best things we ate, that day, and gone so quickly that I failed to snap a photo!

Italian Family Festa Food

Ices and a variety of coffee and tea were available from booths as well as bottled water, beer and wine (the latter required the purchase of tickets). Even after the wines we’d taste in the seminar, earlier, we each got a glass of Prosecco to eat with our zeppole before calling it a day.

Thankfully the Groupon offer meant I paid slightly less for weekend passes what it would have cost us just to enter the one day ($5 per person entrance fee). We opted not to return on Sunday.

I hope that they do try again, next year, and are able to add to the cultural options in our little southern town.

Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Walker

    1. Of course!

      Groupon just recently came to our market so this was my first experience with it.

      What it is, basically, is a cross between a group-buy and a coupon (hence the portmanteau of a name). Stores, etc. offer a deal (usually 50% off a service or a gift certificate, sometimes steeper discounts) and you have the option to buy-in or not. If x number of people (I think the vendor chooses what minimum they require) agree to buy into the deal, then it’s a go. You pay the offered price (sometimes there are more than one level of buy-in) and (in the case of gift certificates and our Festa entrace) print out your voucher.

  1. Groupon has been available in Tucson for about a year or more. Also Social Living is similar. Google wanted to buy Groupon for a billion dollars but the deal fell through.

    I have used Groupon a few times for restaurants where I paid Groupon $15 but at the restaurant ate $30 worth of food. I’m not sure how restaurants can afford to do this unless they think people will a)buy alcohol or more food and b)that people will return.

    The restaurant or business gets a big infusion of up front money but as people start using the groupons they could lose money or go out of business.

    I just bought one to have my car washed and hand-waxed.

    1. That’s a good point, about the Groupon and Living Social deals. Today’s offer, for instance, is $20 for $10 at a local restaurant I go to from time to time. When Todd and I go there for dinner it’s almost always over $20 and, since we’re getting $10 for “free”, we’d be more inclined to order an extra appetizer or dessert.

      I have to believe, from a business stand-point, that owners are using these offers as a loss-leader but, hopefully, only offering a discount commensurate with breaking even on the deal. Yes, there will be those who only just use the value of the offer, but it’s still people in the seats, there’s a chance they’ll spend more and there’s even more of a chance that they’ll come back again, if the service was good and even tell their friends.

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