Popular Land of the Loon Festival Booth Celebrates Heritage

By KBJR News 1

June 15, 2012 Updated Jun 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - This weekend will mark the 36th annual Land of the Loon Festival in Virginia. The Festival hosts hundreds of vendors each year, but one of their most popular is the Italian American Club's sausage booth.

The Club stocked up for this year's Festival with about 300 lbs. of Italian sausage and 400 lbs. of Italian beef.

Club members say that their booth is one of the busiest at the Festival.

"The lines are right to the end of the road over there," said member Carmen Figliola.

For every one of the Land of the Loon's 36 years, this club has been serving up their famous sausage along with a helping of good–natured fun.

"We joke with our customers and we tease our customers. We're all a bunch of good natured Italians," said member Val Serra.

But some fear that this year could be the Club's last at the Festival.

"It'll be a sad day, if we fold this thing up, but I don't know how we're going to keep going with such few members," said member Roger Licari.

"We used to have close to 200 [members] about maybe ten years ago. Now, we're down to 35," said Figliola.

The decrease in membership has made club activities more difficult. Some think the decline in membership has to do with generational differences.

"We try to get the young ones in but as I said, they just don't have the feel we do for our heritage," said Serra.

For now, club members aren't focusing on that. For them, this booth could be a means to spreading their heritage, one of the purposes they had in mind when starting the booth at the Land of the Loon Festival 36 years ago.

"They wanted to keep our heritage going, the Italian American Club. We are one of the original booths," said Serra.

Italian American Club members say they're always looking for new members. You can visit their booth and many others at the Land of the Loon Festival this weekend.