Italian Festival to proceed in 2021

081117...R ITALIAN 1...Warren...08-11-17...Abby Williams, left, and Jordan Watson, both of Warren, prepare food at Fat Daddy's Friday at the Warren Italian-American Heritage Festival...by R. Michael Semple

The Warren Italian-American Heritage Festival will be back in Courthouse Square in August, but the Wings & Wheels at the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum and SLOAS Airfield will stay grounded for another year.

Italian festival President Carole Ficeti said the board continued to meet via Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic and went back and forth on whether to have the event Aug. 12-15 on Courthouse Square in downtown Warren.

“Hopefully, hopefully, by summer this virus will be under control,” she said. “Because it takes so long to plan (a decision had to be made early). If anything happens, we can always cancel if we have to.”

Vice President Phil Sidoti talked with both Warren Mayor Doug Franklin and the Warren City Health Department, Ficeti said, and he received the go-ahead to move forward with the festival as long as it complied with the guidelines from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ficeti said they’ve already started accepting contracts from vendors, and contracts with entertainers have been negotiated so they can be canceled without penalty if the lingering impact from the coronavirus forces organizers to reconsider.

“We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback,” Ficeti said. “People are anxious to get out and do things, and the vendors are happy because that’s their business.”

Board members also reached out to past volunteers to make sure they still are willing to be involved.

“Especially the older people, most have been vaccinated already,” she said. “A few were cautious, but for the most part, people say go ahead and they’re willing to volunteer.”

While the Italian festival is moving forward, organizers of another popular August event decided to cancel plans for the second straight year.

Brenda Long, secretary / treasurer for the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum in Howland, said it will not hold its annual Wings & Wheels event at SLOAS Airfield on Aug. 1. The board decided there was too much uncertainty about whether an event of that size would be possible.

The event traditionally attracted thousands of spectators to view the hundreds of aircraft and motor vehicles on display. Past events have raised more than $20,000 for the museum and local charities.

The museum does plan to unveil later this year its fully restored 1947 Piper P-12, a three-seat airplane that once belonged to local aviation pioneer Ernie Hall.



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