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The West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival Dancers perform during the fifth annual Italiano! Festival on Aug. 17, 2019, in downtown Huntington. This year’s festival, previously scheduled for Aug. 15, has been postponed.

HUNTINGTON — Facing Hunger Foodbank is postponing its annual Italiano! Festival, previously scheduled for Aug. 15 in downtown Huntington, according to a news release.

The decision to postpone was based on the continuing demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis in the 17 counties served by the food bank.

“With a 40% increase in food demand since March, we had to determine where our energies should be focused,” said Cynthia Kirkhart, executive director of the food bank. “The increased food insecurity in our area may extend into the summer months. We concluded that we honor our communities, our Italian-American honorees and all the people who have suffered through this pandemic if we postpone the festival until such time as we all can celebrate safely.”

It would have been the sixth annual festival.

“We do not have a new date for the festival, but we anticipate that when the time is right, the Italiano! Festival again will be a celebration of the hardworking Italian immigrants who settled in this area and shared their hospitality and enriched our communities with their heritage,” Kirkhart said. “In the meantime, we are looking ahead to September, which is Hunger Action Month, to honor the many community partners and volunteers whose gracious support has helped us meet our current shared challenges.”

The Italiano! Festival was the idea of local restaurateur and entrepreneur Ralph Hagy, chef owner of La Famiglia. Since its inception, the festival has grown each year in popularity, drawing more than 8,000 attendees in 2019.

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