AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Summer is synonymous with eating outdoors and attending festivals in many parts of the States. For Americans stationed at Aviano, this weekend presents an Italian twist.

The Associazone Dei Comandantionorari USAF Base Aerea Di Aviano (Honorary Squadron Commanders Association) is hosting an Italian-American Friendship Fest in the nearby community of San Quirino.

“I’m expecting about 2,000,” said Paolo Tarchi, a local national who works in the base’s public affairs department and one of the coordinators on base. “It’s not easy if you have a nice day. Then people want to go to the seashore.”

The beach may be less than an hour away. But the food and entertainment will be free Sunday in San Quirino.

Activities begin at 10 a.m. with a “noncompetitive” walk/run of seven kilometers (about four miles). That’s followed by an archery contest/demonstration. Then it’s lunch, served by members of the Alpini (mountain forces) veterans association.

Starting at 1 p.m., live Italian and American music is on tap.

An hour later, games including miniature soccer and tug of war are scheduled. Arts and crafts booths and various attractions for children will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tarchi said the event isn’t the first large-scale gathering to try to get large numbers of Americans and Italians together. The communities of Roveredo, in 1986, and Aviano, in 1997, have hosted them. But all the festivals share the same theme.

“The reason is just to put together the two communities,” he said.

Or, with the beginning of fall just a few weeks away, because it’s one of the last chances to enjoy a summer day in northern Italy.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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