Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grape Festival Time!

Every August since 1899, folks of all ages flock to the Tontitown Grape Festival, sponsored by St. Joseph's Church. One of the biggest festivals in Northwest Arkansas, the Tontitown Grape Festival celebrates Tontitown's Italian heritage with great live entertainment, a Carnival, an Arts & Crafts Fair, a Run for the Grapes and the annual crowning of the Queen of the Festival.

In the weeks before the festival, parishioners of St. Joseph's
faithfully prepare the ton and a half of spaghetti and sauce for the dinners.

That's a lot of tomato sauce!

The lines to eat are very long, but well worth the wait!

Homemade fried chicken (this is Arkansas, after all) is also served!

There's a grape stomp contest that is very popular!

The carnival is always fun, rides, midway games and fair food.
Lots of happy smiles on kids faces...

Families come out and enjoy the cool night air, having fun and making memories!

The following recipe was clipped from an Arkansas newspaper years ago and is supposed to be a recipe from Mama Z's at Tontitown, Arkansas.

Spaghetti Sauce (Mrs. Arch Featherston)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 pound ground beef
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
garlic to taste
1 4 ounce can mushrooms
1/4 pound parmesan cheese
In heavy pan, brown onion, celery, and meat. Drain. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste, salt, oregano and garlic. Cover and simmer over low heat several hours, stirring frequently. Add cheese and cook until cheese is melted. Serve over cooked spaghetti.
I think one of the Italian women at Tontitown gave this recipe to Mother Chris years ago. Mrs. Morsani used to make spaghetti for her. Chris would give her the eggs and she would not charge her much. Mrs. E. M Morsani's daughter, Edna Lou Zulpo (and now her daughters) own Mama Z's in Tontitown, I still buy spaghetti from them.
Double recipe and 2 pounds spaghetti will serve about 20 people.


  1. I'm not familiar with Mama Z's. Has it been around as long as Mary Maestri's or the Venetian Inn. I used to be able to eat one of those platter size steaks with French fries and a side of pasta at Venetian Inn. That was definitely in my younger days.

  2. It looks like a great festive gathering. The picture of the little guy stomping grapes is just a delight. The spaghetti sauce is very much like the one that appeared on the back of a Hunt's sauce can back in the 50's. The Hunt sauce cooked for a shorter time than the one you've posted. It's a good recipe.
    I hope you are having a wonderful day.

  3. Yeah, it's a very interesting festival especially with those stomping grapes thing!

  4. Fun for all i'd say. Hubs and I were talking last weekend about making my homemade sketti&meatballs. I just might have to do that now.

  5. I love all of the pictures with this post! What a fun time.

  6. Looks like so much fun! I ate at Mary Maestri's once years was very good and we loved the atmosphere. I seem to remember some ravioli!!!!!

  7. You make me hungry!!!
    Sounds so good. How I wish there was someone here that made that and I would buy me some to freeze for a cold winters evening. yummy .
    Elsie <><


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