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Pasta preparations begin for the 123rd Tontitown Grape Festival

Tontitown is preparing for their annual Grape Festival by making more pasta than ever before.

TONTITOWN, Ark. — The Tontitown Grape Festival is back for its 123rd year.

Locals say when a large number of Italians came to Arkansas they moved to Sunnyside, but since it wasn’t conducive to growing grapes, some re-located to Tontitown.

And they have been holding their festival there ever since.

“This is our heritage, you know. We’re doing these things because our grandparents did these things, and their grandparents did these things,” said Ryan Pianalto, the director of the Tontitown Grape Festival.

The five-day festival includes carnival rides, live entertainment, and lots of pasta. This year organizers are making 3,500 pounds of pasta and will serve about 7,000 dinners. That’s 500 pounds more than their previous years.

“So, there’s several processes. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but a lot of process,” said Bernadette Pianalto Collins a volunteer for the festival.

Volunteers spend four days making the pasta. They have to mix the dough, roll it out, then cut it and hang it to dry.

Bernadette Pianalto Collins has been attending the festival since she was a little girl and helping make the pasta has always been a huge part.

“If you didn’t come and help, you didn’t get to go out and ride the carnival rides,” Collins said.

Now younger generations are still carrying on the tradition.

“My family is from here, so I’ve been doing it since I was about this tall,” said volunteer Taylor Martin. The festival holds a special meaning for many families in the area.

“It’s a work of love, you know, and service to our community and our church,” Collins said.

And, if you want to help, they are always open to some extra hands.

“Come up, we’ll find you a spot. We’d love to have the help. Come have some pasta!” Collins said.

The event-packed festival starts on August 2 and runs until August 6.

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