Every now and then, you come across a little hidden gem that you should have known about already. That is what happened a couple of weeks ago when a friend invited me to a birthday celebration at Urbana Farmstead in the Landmark community south of Little Rock. Following my GPS to get there, I pulled off the beaten path onto a fairly nondescript roa...

Last year the Little Italy Arkansas Heritage Society and Museum Board approved forming an annual “Christmas in Little Italy” event to return traditions of old to our beloved community and the current Board has approved continuing this event! The inaugural event provided toys and books to over 50 children during a drive through visit with Santa and...

Jettie Franco recently spent hours running dough through a roller to make spaghetti for her town's annual grape festival. It's a tradition she has been participating in for about 60 years and that has been in the Franco family for generations. Franco worked alongside family members and other prominent Tontitown families to prepare the dinners for t...

For the 122nd time, the annual Grape Festival is coming to Tontitown. The festival started all the way back in 1898 when the Italian families who immigrated to Arkansas held a tasty meal to celebrate the harvest. The Grape Festival will feature free live music, a carnival, the grape stomp, and of course, the famous spaghetti dinners. Volunteers hav...

Following a fiscal year that shattered franchise development records,  Fazoli’s  is taking its expansion strategy to the next level with its most aggressive goal yet. Fazoli’s ended its fiscal year in March, with a record 20 new franchise agreements to develop 50 locations, exceeding the most agreements Fazoli’s had signed in a single year in its 3...

Ryan Calabretta-Sajder, assistant professor of Italian, recently co-edited Italian Americans on Screen: Challenging the Past, Re-Theorizing the Future, with Alan Gravano (Lexington Books, 2021). The edited collection reconsiders Robert Casillo's definition of Italian-American cinema as "appl[ying] to works by Italian-American directors who treat It...

The University of Arkansas' Daniela D'Eugenio, assistant professor of Italian, recently presented "Comics and Graffiti for the 'Week of the Italian Language in the World'" on the  roundtable session "Teaching Popular Culture in the Intermediate Language Courses" at the 52nd Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA). The...

For 125 years, the Italian of Sunnyside Plantation Lake Village in Arkansas aka Delta Italians~Italians of Sunnyside have been having an annual spaghetti dinner. ... With Covid that meant a drive-through for 2,000 this year with 4 tables of 8 being allowed inside the gym. Guiness World Record 's should have been there. Salad and dessert included. S...

Arkansas is steeped in history, natural beauty and southern hospitality.  It is (you would think) one of the last places in America where residents from, fourth, fifth and sixth generations can trace their lineage back to Italy.  One location in Arkansas where Italian immigrants were brought over to work on a cotton plantation circa 1895 was Sunnys...

I may be wrong, and I ask our readers to help me if so, but there is no such thing as a town called "Little Italy" in the United States. There are, of course, many neighborhoods called Little Italy in different American cities, officially or not. But a city officially called Little Italy, to my knowledge, does not exist. Today our interview guests...