The annual Our Lady of Mount Carmel Italian Festival opens Thursday at 4 p.m. and runs through Sunday on the church grounds at 343 Via Mount Carmel, on the edge of downtown, near Choffin Career Center.
About 12,000 people attended the festival last year.
As always, there will be plenty of free parking and security. A portion of the parish parking lot will be used as well as the parking lots at United Way, St. Cyril & Methodius Church, IBM Building, Levinson Tire, Advantage Vinyl, and the YMCA. There will again be buses and a fleet of golf carts to shuttle the crowd, free of charge.
The popular festival on the hill features Italian foods, entertainment and more. It will kick off with its annual Little Prince & Princess event in the social hall at 7 p.m. Thursday. Close to 30 boys and girls age 6 to 9 will compete for the title and all of the children will receive trophies.
For the first time, opening ceremonies will take place this year, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.
Awards will be given to the festival’s first Man of the Year, Eugene J. Calcagni and Woman of the Year, Elizabeth Mirone.
Scholarships worth $1,000 to Youngstown State University will be presented to Scott Williams and Kristine Valentini.
Now in its 15th year, the OLMC festival is an old-fashioned Italian event that preserves the country’s heritage.
This year’s entertainment headliners will feature Teo Ricciardella of New York, and the return of popular New Jersey singer Moreno Fruzzetti. Other entertainers scheduled to perform on the two stages are Stefano, of New Castle, Pa.; Elwood City’s Capri Band; Mirella the Musician from Pittsburgh; plus Jim Frank Trio, Frank Gallo, John Gabrielle, Rex Taneri, Gabriel and Friends, Rocky Monaco, “D” Major Band, Dom Tocco & The Brotherhood, Paul Rossi’s Plazateers Band, and Steve Fazzini.
The annual procession will start at 1 p.m. Sunday after the noon Mass. Led by a group of church youth bearing the flags of Italy’s regions, it will begin at the church entrance and proceed down Via Mount Carmel to the United Way office, and then back down through the midway. It will conclude with a concert on the main stage by the Plazateer Band.
Returning again this year will be the “Italian Made Simple” classes. They are taught by Matthew Saborse, a former scholarship winner himself, who teaches the Italian language at Howland High School. The classes are free and will go on nightly from 7 to 8 p.m.
More than 300 prizes that will appeal to every age group will be offered at the Italian Silent Auction, which runs all four days in the social hall, with the drawing Sunday evening.
The homemade wine tasting contest will have three categories: white, red and rose. Entry fee is $5. Check- in is 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, with judging at 6 p.m. Call John Beene for information at 330-792-7028.
The children’s area has been expanded with clowns, magic shows nightly, pony and train rides, games, and bounce-a-rounds, face painting and other activities.