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Dean Martin Festival will continue to thrive

Not too long after he learned that Dean Martin had died on Dec. 25, 1995, then-Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci announced that the city would find a way to honor one of the its most-beloved native sons.

That led to the formation of the Dean Martin Committee, which would organize what would become the Dean Martin Festival, an annual celebration of the life and accomplishments of the legendary star who remains remembered as a member of the fabled Rat Pack. That group, which included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, dominated the entertainment world in the early 1960s and helped turn Las Vegas from a sleepy dessert town into the resort capital of the world.

Since that first local festival was held, the event has seen several format changes, and has included film festivals, karaoke contests, concerts by Martin and Rat Pack tribute entertainers, meatball-eating contests and the occasional parade.

It had, sadly, reached the point where it needed to be freshened up a little.

That’s why we were excited to learn earlier this week that the Steubenville Visitors Center and Martin festival committee were coming together to collaborate on this year’s event.

Officials said the Spot Bar will be the focal point of the three-day celebration, which will be held on Fourth Street between Adams and North streets.

The combined event means that the Hometown Celebration will not be returning to Fort Steuben Park. According to the city’s current mayor, Jerry Barilla, who also serves as president of Historic Fort Steuben, that event had started to slow down. Combining the events will make the weekend in Steubenville stronger.

Joe DiAlbert, the owner of the Spot Bar and longtime supporter of activities in the community in general and the Martin festival in particular, said the combined event was a long time coming, adding it will create a nice atmosphere in the downtown area.

Martin, who was born Dino Crocetti on June 7, 1917, remains one of the most-revered entertainers of all-time, singularly symbolizing the Cocktail Cool era. His music is still enjoyed by fans around the world, his movies receive wide play and his television show remains the standard against which all other variety programs are judged.

His bigger-than-life personality and star power have allowed him to remain among the most-recognized stars and created such a lasting series of memories that fans from around the United States as well as Canada, Brazil, Switzerland, Great Britain, Australia and, of course, Italy, travel to Steubenvlle each summer to honor his legacy.

And that translates into an economic boost for our community.

The Dean Martin Festival has, for many years, been one of the most-anticipated events of the summer season. Thanks to the collaboration between the visitors center and the Spot Bar, it should continue to thrive for many years to come.

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