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Welcome Back, Italian Festival

One of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year, the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, is slated for this weekend. Opening ceremonies are at noon today at Wheeling’s Heritage Port. And coming off a canceled year in 2020 due to COVID-19, this year’s event should be one to remember.

Our Ohio Valley is proof positive of America’s tradition as a melting pot of cultures. Northern Panhandle and East Ohio residents revel in that, with a variety of events celebrating our varied ancestries.

Perhaps the most popular — and certainly one of the largest — celebrations is the Italian Heritage Festival. Live music and other entertainment and plenty of great food abound at the festival.

While the event revolves around traditions ranging from bocce to wine making, its organizers look to the future, too. During its more than three decades, the festival has handed out scholarships to scores of deserving young people. This year, 12 students will receive $1,000 each.

And the festival honors leaders who have done much for our communities, through the annual Italian-American of the Year award. This year’s recipient is Dewey Guida of Weirton, who had these words for scholarship honorees earlier this year:

“Be proud of your Italian heritage. Your ancestors came here with nothing but the American dream,” he said.

“I still believe in it, and I still believe in you, and I believe this is going to be a wonderful time for all of you to shine.”

Indeed.

Here’s wishing for great weather, great company and great food at Heritage Port. This weekend, we’re all Italian.

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