Martin and a lot more

STEUBENVILLE – For Carmichaels, Pa., resident Maryann Lessick, spending nearly two hours in a car was worth it if it meant she could get her picture taken with Dean Martin.

Or, at least, a life-sized cardboard cutout of him.

“I grew up listening to him,” Lessick said as she fingered the Dean Martin T-shirts, life-size posters and other memorabilia for sale at the Visitor Center at Historic Fort Steuben. “I just feel bad I never got to see him in person. I’ve always been a Dean Martin fan, I have all his CDs and I love to listen to his music.”

Martin, born Dino Crocetti, was born in Steubenville and Saturday his hometown hosted the Dean Martin Day Hometown Celebration, and Judy Bratten, executive director of Historic Fort Steuben, said they’d had a strong showing from out-of-town guests. “We had people come from Ireland, Branson, Mo., Idaho, Cleveland, Naples, Fla., Cincinnati, Georgia … the all came in for Dean Martin,” she said. “It’s been neat.”

In addition to a street fair, games and kiddie rides and classic car cruise-in on South Third Street, festival-goers also could tour the Dean Martin Room at the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum, enjoy Local History Day and reduced price tours at Historic Fort Steuben and take in the Rat Pack Tribute Show at Steubenville High School , the “Forever Plaid” production by the Steubenville High School Thespians, and a host of Dean Martin-themed activities at the Spot Bar.

Early in the day, Lessick said she was headed to the Rat Pack concert at Steubenville High School and also was planning to check out the Dean Martin tributes at the Spot Bar throughout the day and into the evening.

“I have to have my picture taken with my arms wrapped around this thing,” she said, pointing at the lifesized Dean Martin figure on display in the Visitor’s Center. “It’s the next best thing.”

Pittsburgh residents Brandon Schnelzer, 16, and Suzanne Koribanic picked up some Dean Martin trinkets before making their way the Rat Pack concert.

“He does impersonations,” Koribanic said. “He impersonates him, sings in talent shows as Dean Martin. He really loves him.”

Schnelzer said he got hooked on movies from the 1940s. “I finally found him,” he said. “I thought he was really good.”

But it was Steubenville native Edna Michetti, now living in Wellsburg, who stole the show at the Rat Pack concert. Sitting in the front row, Michetti had a running conversation with Dean, Frank and Sammy … or, at least the three men impersonating the famous trio, backed by a 13-piece orchestra at Saturday’s performance.

Michetti’s father, Camillo DeLucia, owned Camillo’s Spaghetti House on South Street, and also had an Italian radio and television program.

“I knew Dean Martin,” Michetti said. “…His parents would come in the restaurant, and he’d come with them once in a while. He was a good-looking man.”

The concert drew more than 200 spectators.