Metro-East Living

Visit the Nina and Pinta on Grafton riverfront

Reproductions of Columbus’ ships the Nina, left, and Pinta will be back on the Grafton riverfront this weekend.
Reproductions of Columbus’ ships the Nina, left, and Pinta will be back on the Grafton riverfront this weekend. News-Democrat

Scaled-down replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships, the Nina and the Pinta will be open for public viewing Friday through June 6 at The Loading Dock, 401 Front St. in Grafton.

You can visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students 5-16. Children 4 and under get on free. No reservations are necessary.

The Nina was built completely by hand, without the use of power tools. Archaeology magazine called it “the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built.” In 2005, the Pinta, also a caravel, was launched in Brazil.

Both ships tour together as a “sailing museum” to educate people on the caravel, a Portuguese ship used by early explorers to discover the world. Historians consider the caravel the Space Shuttle of the 15th century.

For more information, visit the website

Italian-American Days

Food, games, music and all things Italian will be happening when the Italian Club of Benld stages the 63rd annual Italian-American Days Festival Friday through Monday at Benld City Park.

The fun begins at 4 p.m. Friday, when $20 carnival ride armbands will be available until 10 p.m. The All Mixed Up Band will perform from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the park opens at 4 p.m. Carnival rides are $2 each from 4 to 10 p.m. Agent 99 will provide the music from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Sunday is the big meatball. One ton of free spaghetti will be served at the park’s lunch stand from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Music will be by Bagna Caulda from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m; Avery Hill from 3 to 7 p.m.; and the Smash band from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Carnival armbands will be $20 from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. A bocce ball tournament starts at noon (registration at 11 a.m. in the beer tent).

Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday. $20 armbands will be available from 1 to 5 p.m.

Bingo will start at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday at at 1 p.m. Monday. The fish stand will open each day at 4 p.m.

Italian specialties including tortellini soup, homemade Italian salami, meatball sandwiches, bagna caulda and spumoni ice cream will be sold, along with festival shirts and Italian novelty items.

Benld 47 miles north of Belleville on Illinois 138, 2 miles west of Interstate 55.