BELLAIRE - A favorite staple of the upcoming Italian Festival is produced by Bellaire's chapter of the Sons of Italy. Once again, the Sons will serve up traditional Italian sausage sandwiches.
Richard Vannelle, chapter president, noted that the volunteers produce 3,000 pounds of sausages, or one and a half tons, for each festival. They have contributed this taste of Italy for all 32 years the festival has been active.
The festival takes place Friday through Sunday and will attract up to 100,000 visitors. Vannelle said the unique taste of his chapter's recipe is an anticipated part of the event.
MEMBERS OF the Bellaire Sons of Italy
prepare the club’s signature sausages,
to be served during the upcoming
Sausage making began three weeks ago when about 20 volunteers started processing, casing and freezing the vast amounts of meat, including link sausages and patties. The meat is purchased from Jacobs in Martins Ferry.
"It's generally a labor of love," said Vannelle. "They give freely of their time."
He added that sausage making and wine making are traditional Italian pursuits. The volunteers were generally introduced to the practice by their family members who have also volunteered.
"It becomes part of their heritage," he said. "Volunteers come from families that have been doing this for a long time."
St. Clairsville Mayor Robert Vincenzo, volunteering for the first time, noted that the process was fascinating and credited the good will of the group for helping him learn the ropes of sausage making. Judge Frank Fregiato praised the rich tradition the group was keeping alive.
Volunteers who hail from communities across the area from St. Clairsville to Barnesville say they value the camaraderie of the work and the contribution to the festival.
Vannelle added that all proceeds minus expenses will go to scholarships, charities and community projects. The Sons of Italy give four scholarships per year, based on points earned for categories such as academics, extracurricular activities, and civic affairs. They also contribute to the state Sons of Italy scholarship.
During the past 10 years, the group has raised about $60,000 for scholarship purposes. They will begin giving applications for a new round this year.
"It serves the public well," he said.
Bellaire's chapter of the Sons of Italy is located at 3348 Belmont St.
DeFrank can be reached at email@example.com