Youngstown Italian Fest opens Friday

The Greater Youngstown Italian Fest returns to Federal Plaza on Friday.

The festival, hosted by the Italian Heritage Foundation of Youngstown, Inc., was created to honor the memory and living heritage of the Italian community in the Mahoning Valley. The event has drawn as many as 50,000 visitors over three days.

Food vendors, Italian games and other attractions are featured. Main stage entertainment includes a beauty pageant and the Ovation Band on Friday; a polka mass, Jack Vasko, Gabriel and Co. and Micheal Castaldo on Saturday; and an Italian mass, the Lowellville Band, a Little King and Queen Contest and music by Avanti, Castaldo and Dom Tocco on Sunday.

Local acts will be featured on a second stage in the beer and wine garden, which also will host a pasta-eating contest at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Sunday and 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday in downtown Youngstown, with entrances at West Federal and Phelps streets, Wick Avenue and Commerce Street, Market and Boardman streets and East Federal and Champion streets.

Admission is $3 with children ages 11 and younger admitted free. Children ages 17 and younger will not be admitted unless accompanied by a parent.

Net proceeds from the event will be used to fund scholarships for local students and benefit such charities as the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley. For more information, call 330-793-9602.