Blistering heat did not keep the crowds from this year's Italian Festival, and I was no exception.

This foodie needs fried dough from time to time, so Jim’s Fried Dough was a natural for my first stop. Just the right amount of powdered sugar and cinnamon on those little dough nuggets, and I was in heaven!

It’s easy to go for the first booth out there, but I’m careful. I want just the right experience, and pacing and planning is my M.O. So I checked out where the crowds were, the best displays and, of course, where my nose led me.

I see the eating pattern as “courses." The previously mentioned dough nuggets constitute the “browsing course,” which is for nibbling while cruising the festival grounds looking for the perfect main course and side dishes.

And did I ever find them! The Sorrento Cheese booth gave out delicious samples of cheese and crackers, as well as tangy and sweet mozzarella and watermelon kebabs drizzled with balsamic glaze.

This appetizer left me ready for the nearby Salvatore’s Italian Garden booth, where I dove into a sampler plate of an all-sirloin meatball stuffed with cheese, paired with two portabella raviolis and a side Caesar salad. Deliciousness was in the air!

The most unique food I found, however, was Pigasus Roasters's roasted corn, baby potatoes and the most fabulous, smothered-in-butter-and-brown-sugar, melt-in-your-mouth sweet potatoes I’ve ever had.

With a full stomach, I can safely declare that the Italian Festival rocks!

Contributed by Julie Allen