All systems go for Youngstown Italian Fest

Submitted photo.... After a year absence due to COVID-19, the Greater Youngstown Italian Fest returns to downtown Youngstown this weekend.

YOUNGSTOWN — The organizers of the Greater Youngstown Italian Fest believe in tradition.

In a year when they had less time to plan than usual, that’s a good thing, according to chairman John Rossetti.

“We didn’t get the OK until the beginning of June, but we started planning in March, April and May to get it done correctly. That’s where we’re at with it. Slowly but surely, we’re doing OK.”

This is the 35th year for the festival, which is returning to downtown after a one year break due to COVID-19.

“The concern of people is really, really touching,” Rossetti said. “Everyone was thrilled to hear we’re moving forward and doing it. I think people want to get out, leave their properties, come together and enjoy themselves in an entertainment venue … It’s an annual rite of passage in the Mahoning Valley.”

About 35 food vendors will be set up on Federal Street between Phelps and Champion streets selling Italian dishes and fair favorites. The festival also will include about 15 craft vendors.

Entertainment is scheduled all three days on two stage with an emphasis on local acts.

“We are traditionalists at heart,” Rossetti said. “We stick with a lot of the local traditional acts — Del Sinchak, Cavalieri Reale, Dom Tocco and Brotherhood. We’ll keep them in place as long as they’re going.”

The grounds will open in time for lunch on Friday, but the official grand opening ceremony is scheduled at 5 p.m. on the Roma stage with a ribbon cutting and the announcement of this year’s four scholarship winners, who will receive a $1,000 scholarship to Youngstown State University.

Competitions during the weekend include a morra tournament on Friday, a pasta-eating contest on Saturday and a homemade wine contest on Sunday.

An outdoor Mass also is planned for Sunday.



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