WHEELING - For Marie Karl, the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival means not only enjoying tasty food but a chance to pay homage to her Sicilian background.
''My father was born in Sicily and my mother's family was from Sicily,'' said Karl, who travels from Freeport each year to attend the festival that continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Heritage Port.
Karl, decked out in her homemade green, white and red dress and matching sun hat, said she enjoys eating meatballs and pasta she termed ''sewer pipes.''
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Kalin Campbell, left, 13, and Dakota Stevey, 14, both of Martins Ferry react to riding the Spin Out during the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival Saturday in Wheeling.
''That's what we call it at home,'' she said of the penne-style noodles. ''Where would the world be without Italians? We helped make America.''
Wellsburg resident Sandra Cordery brought her 2-year-old grandson Brycen Sandreth to enjoy the children's rides.
''I come every year - it's the best one. This is the greatest with all the rides and everything,'' Cordery said.
Bellaire resident Brenda Green said she annually enjoys the sausage sandwich from the Bellaire Sons of Italy stand.
''And I come to meet friends and see people I haven't seen in awhile,'' Green noted. ''It's good for the community. There's a lot of vendors which makes the food good - they have to compete.''
Tressie Fitzhugh of Martins Ferry said she also enjoys the Sons of Italy sausage sandwich every year.
''It's nice. I enjoy the food most of all,'' Fitzhugh said.
The festival is scheduled to begin with a Catholic Mass at 10 a.m. today at Heritage Port.