WARREN 18th annual festival touts area's Italian culture

A check will be presented to Youngstown State University for Italian classes for fourth-graders in Warren.
WARREN -- Italian food, music and cultural displays move into Courthouse Square this weekend for the 18th Warren Italian-American Festival.
The event runs Friday through Sunday in the square downtown.
A kickoff breakfast is set for 9 a.m. Friday at the Hippodrome, 150 High St., with author Tony Trolio as the guest speaker. Trolio wrote the book "Brier Hill, USA."
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
The Warren Italian-American Festival Committee promotes Italian culture and heritage throughout the community by staging the annual festival.
"Come for the food, the fun, the music and good company," said Phil Sidoti, committee vice president.
A boccie tournament, music, food, winemaking contests, coffee tasting and the tiny king and queen contest and Miss Italian Pageant are some of the events at this year's festival. The tournament starts Thursday evening.
"We'll have cultural heritage displays at the Comfort Inn," said Carol Ficeti, committee president. "We'll have veterans' pictures this year and wedding pictures of families from our area."
The displays will be in the Bistro Room of the Comfort Inn, formerly the Park Hotel. They also include Italian herbs and vegetable frittata making on Friday, a pizelle demonstration, wine making and dancing Saturday and information about touring Italy and the history of the Niles Brick Factory on Sunday.
The festival also includes attractions for younger attendees on Saturday including Scrappy from the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at 1 p.m., O.C. Bee from Old Country Buffet at 2 p.m. and Chuck E. Cheese at 3 p.m.
At 5:45 p.m. Saturday, committee members will present a $3,000 check to the language program at Youngstown State University. The money is to be used to start Italian classes in fourth grade in Warren City Schools, Sidoti and Ficeti said.
Sunday's events
Sunday's activities begin with the Blessed Virgin Procession at 9 a.m. with the Lowellville Marching Band. Formation of the procession will begin at St. Mary Church at 8:30 a.m. An Italian outdoor mass follows at 9:30 a.m., celebrated by Monsignor Michael Cariglia of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Youngstown.
Sunday's parade begins at 2 p.m. Participants line up behind Warren G. Harding High School, march down Elm Road, turn right on Market Street, go through the festival grounds and end at Main Street. TV 27 news anchor Gina Marinelli is parade marshal.
The event wraps up with the 10:30 p.m. Sunday fireworks, provided by American Fireworks.
Music and entertainment are offered through the three-day event at the main state at the Anheuser Busch Beer Tent.
The festival draws people from across Ohio and Pennsylvania, organizers said. Last year, about 75,000 attended. "It's one of the largest Italian festivals in the country," Ficeti said.
"The Italian-American Festival brought the name Festival City to the Warren area," Sidoti added.
The late Lou Metter came up with the idea and started the festival in 1984.
"His family now lives all over in Florida and Columbus and different places, and they all come back for the festival," Ficeti said.

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