Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior on 'The Sopranos,' will headline the event.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Virginia Romeo greets many customers by name as they pay for their olives and pasta at Anzivino's Italian Food Store in the Boardman Plaza.
Business is brisk, and customers come in every few minutes to browse amid the sauces, meats, cheeses and other Old Country foods that overflow from shelves and cases in the small store.
Romeo, a store employee, noted that most customers pause to pick up one of the fliers advertising the Greater Youngstown Italian Festival before they leave.
"I like to see the Italian culture kept up," Romeo said of the festival. "You like to keep it up because it's good for everyone."
This year's festival will be Thursday through Sunday at the Canfield Fairgrounds. Festival Chairman Michael Pinciaro said he expects about 30,000 people to attend.
"It's all our culture that we display," Pinciaro said.
The festival will feature a dance tent, a pasta-eating contest, about 50 Italian food and craft vendors, and displays and pictures about Italian culture in one of the fair buildings.
Festival gates open at 4 p.m. Thursday and at 3:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday. The festival will remain open until 11 each night.
Admission to the festival costs $5. Children younger than 12 are admitted free.
Ralph Anzivino, the proprietor of Anzivino's Italian Food Store, said that for local Italians the festival is "a reunion of their own."
He said many local residents go to the festival to renew old friendships and meet people whose families are from certain areas of Italy.
Anzivino also said he thinks the festival helps to showcase Italian culture for local Italian-Americans.
"It's nice to continue our heritage like that," he said.
Headlining the entertainment at the festival is Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior on the HBO television series "The Sopranos."
Chianese, who is a talented singer as well as actor, will be singing classic Italian songs like he did on the show's last season finale.
He will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Pinciaro said festival-goers will not be charged extra to see Chianese perform.