The Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival always draws a crowd, and this year, event organizers are expecting another great turnout. The weekend-long celebration begins today at noon with opening ceremonies at Wheeling Heritage Port and will wrap up on Sunday evening.

Here are five experiences you won’t want to miss at this year’s festival:

Discover Your Roots in the Boot

If you’re curious about your Italian roots, you can stop by the “Your Roots in the Boot” booth for a quick genealogical search to find out where your Italian lineage likely began. You’ll learn region-specific information, such as popular food and wine, famous landmarks and people, and regional traditions.

Boot

Taste of Italy

In lieu of having the traditional Little Italy section, a new “Taste of Italy” area will be set up along 12th Street at this year’s event. Each day will feature different Italian specials, all homemade by festival organizers. Friday’s menu will feature grab-and-go fare with favorites like pizza and pepperoni rolls, with Saturday and Sunday offering a full dinner menu with pasta, homemade sauce and salads.

Outside of the Taste of Italy village, you can explore several other vendors who will be offering up their take on Italian classics. The Sons of Italy – a crowd favorite – will be back again to sell their fresh-ground sausage sandwiches. Volunteers from the group have been working all week to prepare over 3,000 pounds of their famous sausage. All proceeds from the sales from their booth provide scholarships to local students and donations to local organizations.

Food

Decadent Desserts

All weekend long, you can get your sugar fix with homemade bakery items such as cannoli and Italian pastries – all made by local bakers. You can also cool off with homemade gelato that’s being made with several ingredients sourced from Italy. In fact, the gelato machine itself was purchased in Italy!

Dessert

Live Music, Italian Style

With an eclectic mix of traditional Italian music and contemporary hits, the entertainment lineup at this year’s festival will have something for everyone. Get your toes tapping to some classic Italian music by Rick Pastre & Al Provenzano, Robert ‘Moose’ Dodrill, Ray Massa Big Italian Show, Bob Gaudio, Rex Taneri, The Cavaliers, Lights Out, Le Sorelle Di Bacco, Campo Italiana, and The Avanti Band.

Check out the full lineup here.

Music

Italian Dancers

Enjoy traditional Italian dancing with The Ohio Valley Folk Dancers Saturday from 6 – 6:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1 – 1:45 p.m.

Dancing

Learn more about this year’s festival by visiting italyfest.org.

Alex Panas is the Communications and Development Manager at Wheeling Heritage. She earned an undergraduate degree in health communication from Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and a master of arts in communication studies from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Since moving back to the Ohio Valley, Alex has been involved in a variety of organizations dedicated to revitalizing Wheeling, including the Wheeling Young Preservationists, Generation Wheeling and the United Way. A self-proclaimed cat lady, Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her two cats, Zoey and Millie, and her husband, Aaron Moore.

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