CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Main Street in Clarksburg is draped in green, white and red while a giant American Flag is displayed next to an Italian Flag on the front of the Harrison County Courthouse in anticipation of this weekend’s West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival.
“We’re excited to be able to bring the festival back to the streets of Clarksburg,” Tyler Terango, Chairman of the Board for the festival said.
The festival, which celebrates the culture, art and cuisine from “Lo Stivale,” began back in 1979 with a group of men who wanted to showcase their heritage in Harrison County.
This was about the time a study conducted by WVU found that 34 percent of the county’s population was of Italian descent.
The 37th edition of the festival will officially run from noon on Friday with the Coronation of Regina –Italian for “queen”– Maria XXXVII and ends Sunday at 6 p.m. after a performance by AMICI.
Terango said on the “Mike Queen Show” Thursday that it takes a lot of work to set the festival up the day before.
“Starting at 2 o’clock [Thursday] afternoon, they shut down the streets in downtown Clarksburg. That’s when vendors begin to arrive, they finish setting up the main stage, the jumbotron, a lot of last minute details. That really happens tonight clear through midnight, people are working just diligently to get everything completed.”
For Terango and many others that organize the event throughout the year, this work is done as a labor of love.
“Myself and the rest of the Board of Directors, we’re all volunteers. We don’t get any salary, any type of compensation for our time, we do it because we love it,” he said. “The festival itself, everything that happens comes from sponsors, from fundraising events, from contributions from local families.”
Each year the organizers attempt to add something new to the festival, this year they focused more on cultural events.
“This year we tried to add a lot of cultural events that we haven’t been able to add in the past.”
Specifically, Terango mentioned a performance by singer Concetta Lanasa Hall, the daughter of a Sicilian Immigrant, at the Waldamore and the addition of more authors of Italian decent for their author’s forum.
A full schedule of events can be found at wvihf.com.