Spirit of old neighborhood to come alive during Brier Hill Italian Fest


By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Brier Hill Italian Fest is one of the few local festivals named for its neighborhood, and certainly the largest one.

Now in its 27th year, the street festival is all about keeping alive the spirit of the old Italian neighborhood on the North Side – even if for just one weekend. The fest returns Thursday and runs through Sunday at the intersection of Calvin and Victoria streets.

“We try to keep the spirit of the old neighborhood alive,” said organizer Dom Modarelli, whose father, Dee Dee, started it.

“It was supposed to be a one-time event, a reunion, started by my dad, Joey Naples and Claire Maluso, and it escalated,” said Modarelli.

The Brier Hill fest draws between 20,000 and 25,000 people every year over all four days, and it’s still a reunion at its core. “We get people from all over the country coming back to Youngstown for it,” said Modarelli. “They start calling in January to find out when it is.”

This year’s event will once again include nonstop music by Italian bands, a morra competition, and hot pepper and wine contests. There will also be 20 food vendors and about 10 other vendors selling other items and memorabilia.

Admission, as always, is free.

“We keep it reasonable,” said Modarelli. “Where else are you going to get a $2 glass of beer?”

The Man of the Year ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, and this year’s honorees are Ron Sfara and Chuck Olesky, Both men are Brier Hill natives who have been involved with putting on the festival since it started.

Here is the schedule:

THURSDAY

5-6:30 p.m.: Jim Frank Combo

7-8:30 p.m.: John Gabriele

9-11 p.m.: Rex Taneri Band

FRIDAY

5:30-7 p.m.: Frank Gallo Band

7 p.m.: Opening ceremony

7:30 p.m.: Morra tournament

7-8:30 p.m.: Butch Nichols Band

9-11 p.m.: Dom Tocco and the Brotherhood

SATURDAY

3-4:30 p.m.: John Gabriele

5-6:30 p.m.: Jim Frank Combo

5:30 p.m.: Hot pepper contest registration (winner announced at 7:30 p.m.)

7-8:30 p.m.: Del Sinchak Band

9-11 p.m.: Butch Nichols Band

SUNDAY

10 a.m.: Lowellville Band

10:30 a.m.: Mass at St. Anthony Church with the Lowellville Band

1:30-3 p.m.: John Gabriele

3-5 p.m.: Jim Frank Combo

5:30-7 p.m.: Rex Taneri Band

7:30-9 p.m.: Frank Gallo Band

9:30-11 p.m.: Dom Tocco and the Brotherhood

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