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That's Italian!

In 1984, a Pompano Beach dentist wanted to raise money to convert an old church into a parish hall, so he organized a spaghetti dinner with pony rides.

Richard Porraro's imprint has expanded greatly since then. The event is now known as the St. Coleman Catholic Church's Italian Festival, and the church celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend.

The highlights include:

Food. Folks, it's an Italian festival, which means fried mozzarella, Carrabba's pasta fagioli, stuffed shells, sausage and peppers, Italian ices and pastries.

Entertainment. Bands will perform rock, easy listening, country and "Italian favorites" on the main stage. Featured acts include U2 by UV, a U2 tribute band, at 9 p.m. Friday, and the Long Run, an Eagles tribute band, at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

Rides, etc. A silent auction will give visitors a shot at restaurant certificates, sports memorabilia and excursions (including one on the Jungle Queen); a midway will offer the standard kiddie rides but also rides to make your stomach drop; an arts-and-crafts marketplace will occupy the parish hall.

The St. Coleman Italian Festival will take place 1-11 p.m. Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free, but rides and food are sold on the ticket system, with discounts for buying in bulk. The festival is at 1200 S. Federal Highway in Pompano Beach. Go to

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