When about 300 people gathered together to eat porchetta and drink homemade wine in the courtyard of St. Agnes Hospital over fifteen years ago, it was thought to be a great one-time event. If anyone had said then that the Vendemmia Festival would grow to become an annual event with over 6,000 people attending, it would have been hard to believe. But that is exactly what happened.
A year after the first Vendemmia Festival, a second and bigger event was planned, which led to another the following year. One of the best decisions our committee made was moving the festival from St. Agnes to Girard Estates Park. For several years, Vendemmia was held in this beautiful, historic park, located in the heart of the Girard Estates neighborhood in South Philadelphia.
Despite the wonderful memories made in Girard Park, in 2007 the time came to move to a new location in order to make the festival better . . . so we thought. So we moved. The new location was still in South Philly and was more spacious so everyone had more room to move about. And the new location allowed more off-street parking.
However, it lacked something; it lacked the continuity and charm of the park. What we learned is everyone liked it better when we had less room to move about but more opportunities to talk and laugh and see old friends.
We are pleased to announce the 15th Anniversary Vendemmia Festival is returning to the park. You can still expect the same great entertainment, array of foods to sample, and of course, wine.
What many people do not realize is that Vendemmia is not just a beautiful afternoon in the park; it’s a fundraiser. Your admission price and contributions from our business sponsors directly support up to 20 annual scholarships awarded by the Vemdemmia Foundation to local teens entering high school and college.
The scholarship winners change each year, as do the winning local winemakers. But one constant this event has always enjoyed is you. You and your friends and your family members come from nearby neighborhoods and the suburbs to eat, talk, dance, laugh and enjoy.
In the end, that is what makes the Vendemmia so special. It’s the reason why people keep coming back year after year. It’s the community. You arrive and instantly become a part of a larger family. We celebrate like we’re all one, large extended “Italian” family, and that makes mamma happy.
And so it is with great anticipation everyone gets together this year on September 30, 2012 for another wonderful Vendemmia Festival.
Hope to see you there.
— Gerard V. Vernose, MD