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Italian Heritage fest opens Wheeling weekend

July 25, 2013
By CASEY JUNKINS - For The Weirton Daily Times , Weirton Daily Times

WHEELING - Because of a tie vote by Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival board members, Bellaire natives Gilda Reed and Dr. John DeBlasis are co-Italian-American of the Year for 2013.

"Growing up in south Bellaire back then, if you weren't an Italian, we made you one," Reed said while accepting her award during the festival's Wednesday kickoff dinner. "I am thrilled to be an Italian-American."

DeBlasis, a physical therapist at Wheeling Hospital, said he owes his success to the work ethic his father gave him as a young man.

Article Photos

HONORED ITALIAN-AMERICANS — Dr. John DeBlasis and Gilda Reed are the co-Italian-Americans of the?Year for the 2013 Upper Ohio Valley?Italian Heritage Festival. They spoke during Wednesday’s kickoff dinner. -- Casey Junkins

"My father was a great motivator, and any work ethic I have is a direct result of his tutelage," DeBlasis said.

Also recognized Wednesday for their contributions to the festival during its 31 years were former Chairman Robert Gaudio and former Chairwoman Kathleen Fantazzi.

Although the menu Wednesday focused on pork, chicken and potatoes, those looking to eat at the festival will be able to find anything from giant meatballs to elephant ears. Opening ceremonies for the event are set for noon Friday at Wheeling's Heritage Port.

There will be live music and entertainment throughout the weekend, with much of this activity taking place at the Heritage Port Stage. However, the stage will officially be known this weekend as the Williams Energy Stage, thanks to a $10,000 donation from the Tulsa, Okla.-based natural gas processing company.

During a special reception at West Virginia Northern Community College earlier this year, Williams Strategic Outreach Coordinator Scott Carney presented the donation to Festival President Marian Grubor, emphasizing the company's commitment to the community.

In addition to the traditional festival activities, there will be several new vendors on hand, as well as both mechanical and inflatable rides. The bocce ball tournament will have a new location along Water Street this year after being held close to WesBanco Arena in past years.

Festival entertainment for the weekend is set as follows. Events at the Williams Energy Heritage Port Stage Friday include:

noon - Official opening ceremony

1:15 p.m. - Disc jockey playing Italian music

3 p.m. - New American Groove

5 p.m. - Tony Janflone Jr. Band

7:30 p.m. - Moreno Fruzzetti

10 p.m. - White Collar Criminals

Events set for the Cultural Area Italian Stage Friday include:

noon - Disc jockey playing Italian music

1 p.m. - Kristen Allodi

3:30 p.m. - Le Sorelle

4:30 p.m. - Ronnie Florentino

6:30 p.m. - Allegro Dance Co.

8:30 p.m. - Frank Gallo Band

Saturday Events

Williams Energy Heritage Port Stage:

noon - Veterans appreciation ceremony

2:30 p.m. - Hoard and Jones

4:30 p.m. - Airborne

6:30 p.m. - Scholarship presentations

7:30 p.m. - Elio Scaccio "Big Show"

9:30 p.m. - Fireworks

10 p.m. - Catch Blues Band

Cultural Area Italian Stage:

noon - Disc jockey playing Italian music

1 p.m. - Matt Schafer

4 p.m. - The Faiellas

5:30 p.m. - Jim Frank Combo

7:30 p.m. - Allegro Dance Co.

9 p.m. - 40 Plus Band

Sunday Events

Williams Energy

Heritage Port Stage:

10 a.m. - Roman Catholic Mass

11:15 a.m. - Skip Peck Trio

12:45 p.m. - Ohio Valley Athletic Conference All-Star Marching Band

1:45 p.m. - Easy Street Band

3:30 p.m. - Deja Vu

Cultural Area

Italian Stage

noon - wine-making contest awards

12:30 p.m. - Faiellas

1:15 p.m. - Bella Vino

3:30 p.m. - Nick Fiasco

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