Upper OV Italian Festival begins Friday

Volunteers have been at work for months getting everything ready. (WTOV)

In just a few days, family, food and tradition will take over in Wheeling at the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival.

It takes far more than a week’s work to prepare for the annual festival.

In fact, when the festival ends on Sunday, they’ll have one night off before beginning to prepare for next year. Over the past few weeks, a small group of volunteers have been baking, cooking and getting things ready for the authentic food in little Italy.

Chocolate is landing on dozens of biscotti cookies to be sold while board members have been working on the food and other preparations for months.

“Really the whole month of July is tied up for us on the culture end with cooking. We start the biscotti, the biscotini., orange sliced cookies, any of the pastries we sell down there,” said Marian Grubor, board president.

Little Italy is the authentic portion of the festival at the north end of Heritage Port, near the playground. All the food is homemade, including the pasta, sauce, sausage and even Italian wine.

On Monday, the committee judged food items you'll see at the festival. People from all over the valley brought their authentic Italian recipes. Watch News9 Tonight to see who wins.

“Wednesday is the kickoff dinner. Thursday we will begin this kitchen starting at 7 a.m. cooking. We will make so many gallons of sauce you cannot even imagine, probably 100 gallons of sauce we will make,” Grubor said.

The Italian festival is a free, 3-day event with live music, international foods, games, fireworks and more. Volunteers run the event, now in its 34th year.

“Our goal in this is the $16,000 a year we give in scholarships. We have all been in education at some point and we believe in this, and that's what we do this whole festival for,” Grubor said.

The festival begins Friday with a ribbon cutting at noon.

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