SPRING HILL — Cooler, crisper weather is a sure sign that autumn is here, and that means the aroma of ethnic foods, the sights and sounds of midway rides, and the arrival of the Ethnic Festival at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.
The annual event kicked off Thursday and continues through Sunday. Proceeds go to the church and local charities.
"Everything has really come together," said event chairman Tony Del Vecchio. "Every inch of space (on the church grounds) has been taken up … and will have rides that cater to the youngest to the oldest."
Del Vecchio said the festival will include 20 to 25 rides, a full line of entertainment and foods to satiate any palate: stuffed cabbage, Reubens, Cubans, gyros, pizza, sausage with onions and peppers, and bratwurst sandwiches, as well American staples like Philly cheesesteaks, chicken tenders, hamburgers and hot dogs. For the sweet tooth, there will be root beer floats, sundaes, cheesecake, eclairs, cannolis and other treats.
Along with support from volunteers and area businesses, Del Vecchio said he couldn't put on the festival without the help of co-chairman Frank Fonzo.
"We're lucky to have a community that really works with us," Del Vecchio said.
New to the event this year will be performances by two notable bands, the Satellites and the Clearwater Bluegrass Band.
"We're really excited about them coming," said Joyce Thorpe, who is in charge of entertainment.
The original Satellites will offer doo-wop and rock 'n' roll sounds of the 1950s on Saturday. The Clearwater Bluegrass Band will perform Sunday.
Local favorites will also return to the stage, such as Shazadi and the Jewels of the Desert Belly Dance Troupe, the Tapping Wowettes and John Leggio's Center for the Performing Arts.
"I feel our entertainment is top of the line," Thorpe said. "It is just super."