Clarksburg community leaders worked diligently to create this wonderful street festival and bring it to life. In 1979, the first West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival was born. The creators and benefactors who contributed long hours and planning sessions are now part of the Hall of Fame and were the first WVIHF Foundation Members. These members include Louis Spatafore, Sam Chico*, Sam D'Annunzio*, Frank Iaquinta*, James D. Larosa *, John Manchin* in union with Alma (Merle) Moore*, who was the Harrison County Public Library Director, at the time.It was born out of Love
Love and pride is inherent in the lives of Italian-Americans, especially those in West Virginia. It is this cultural heritage that gave life to the idea of a festival in Clarksburg: to honor the past, celebrate the present and preserve the rich traditions for future generations.
Top-named entertainers can be found on the main stage during the Festival. Previous years, Festival goers have enjoyed such notables as Tony Danza, Kathy Mattea, Jo Dee Messina, Steve Augeri, Joey Dee and the Starliters, and Frankie Avalon - all free of charge to the public.
During the first West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival in 1979, the wine flowed, tantalizing arrays of delectable food abounded and the music was fast-paced. With color, pageantry, entertainment, events, contests, exhibitions and displays packing the streets of uptown Clarksburg, the Festival was an instant success.
With each successive year, the little Festival has grown and has been rated in years past in the American Bus Association's, "Top 100 Events in North America." Each year, this three day street festival brings over 100,000 visitors to Clarksburg.
From the opening ceremonies, when the royal court of Regina Maria (Regina meaning "Queen" and Maria the name of the first queen of Italy), is crowned, to its conclusion with the traditional festival dance, the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival overflows with entertainment and delight.
The office of the Festival can be found on Main Street in Clarksburg, the home of the Festival every year! In the past, our office was in the childhood home of one of our founding fathers, in Glen Elk. Across a bridge and just a short walk from town, the little area known as Glen Elk was the area for the train depot, hotel, markets and warehousing. This area was one of the first that Italian immigrants experienced at the turn of the century when they came to live in Clarksburg.
Under the auspices and labor of several dedicated Executive Directors such as Rosalyn Queen Alonso, Rachel Torchia and Lindsay Lowe, as well as a committed and faithful Board of Directors, the Festival remains a Labor Day weekend event for which many people plan yearly to attend. It is truly a labor of love for all involved and to most it is a way to extend and revere their Italian heritage.* deceased