WHEELING — Members of the Allegro Dance Company wasted no time in kicking up their heels to some Italian music shortly after the ribbon was cut to officially open the 31st Annual Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival for a lunchtime crowd Friday at Wheeling Heritage Port.
The festival officially kicked off in front of the main stage at Heritage Port as co-Italian Americans of the Year, Anthony “Tony” Polsinelli of Benwood and Thomas “Tom” Triveri of Wheeling, cut the ribbon along with nearly a dozen committee members.
Michele Fabbro, president of the Italian Heritage festival, invited the public to come down and join in on the food, fun and entertainment, and visit one of approximately 75 vendors set up at Heritage Port this weekend.
“We have a lot of traditional things. We have an Italian bakery, with all homemade baked goods,” Fabbro said. “We’re going to have the famous Allegro Dance Team teach people free how to do the tarantella. … We also have a booth called ‘Your Roots in the Boot,’ where people can come up and tell us where they’re from in Italy, and we’ll give them some information about the region — like the famous pasta from there or the famous wine.
“We would like everybody to come down and have a little taste of Italy while your here, and enjoy the music, all the entertainment is free,” Fabbro said.
Following the opening ceremony, in a one-day only performance, members of the Allegro Dance Company showed volunteers from the crowd a Neapolitan style of dance.
Anna Harsh, artistic director and founder of the Wheeling based dance company said their program is quite unique, showing a little bit of Italy’s past and present. She said they have performed at the festival for the past 12 years.
John Powell of Wheeling said it has become an annual tradition for him, his wife and family to visit the festival and sample some good Italian food and attend the Veterans Appreciation Ceremony on Saturday morning. He said in addition to buying a Sons of Italy’s homemade sausage sandwich, they also enjoy entertainment on the main stage Saturday evening.
“My father just passed, but we always made it a point to get him one of the sausage (sandwiches) from the Sons of Italy every year,” he said.
The schedule of events Saturday begins at 11 a.m., with the Veterans’ Appreciation Ceremony, and concludes with entertainment by Ray Massa & The Eurorythms from 7:30-10:30 p.m., and a fireworks display beginning at 10:30.