Festivals make our area special

The city will continue to draw visitors later this week with the 18th-annual Dean Martin Festival set Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Curious and hungry visitors to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Food Festival are already enjoying the food served up at that annual event, which runs through Friday.

The Dean Martin event is the community’s yearly tribute to the man who was born here on June 7, 1917, as Dino Crocetti and became one of the top entertainers of all time.

Martin will forever be linked with the cocktail-cool era, a time when he and fellow Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. donned tuxedos, took to the stages at casinos and helped to put Las Vegas on the map as one of the top entertainment destinations in the world.

For that to be the only way Martin is remembered, however, would be to sell him short. Unlike many of today’s celebrities, Martin had the talent, ability and discipline to shine while performing in any format.

It’s a legacy that made him hugely popular in life and has allowed his works to remain top draws long after his death on Dec. 25, 1995.

So overall, this is a busy and fun week that brings the community spirit to life.

Let’s begin with Thursday when a Dean Martin karaoke contest will be held at the Spot Bar at 8 p.m., and the winner will sing on stage the following night. There’s also the summer concert series featuring Dr. Zoot on Zoot Island at the Louis and Sandra Berkman Amphitheater.

The Dean Martin Festival will continue at 8 p.m. Friday with a tribute to Dean Martin by Russ Loniello and Tom Stevens, the Martin & Lewis Show and a Neil Diamond show by Chris Denem. Also performing will be the Pittsburgh Rat Pack Show including Bob Morelli, Buster Maxwell and Dave Salera.

The evening will conclude with special guest star Elvis Presley Jr. live from Las Vegas with a tribute to Elvis.

The entertainment at the Spot Bar on Saturday will start at 1 p.m. with the Frank Gallo Italian Band and the Martin mania will continue at 8 p.m. Saturday with Sputzy opening the evening festivities followed by a tribute to Dean Martin by Russ Loniello, the Dean & Jerry Show and a Neal Diamond Tribute by Chris Denem.

A portion of the proceeds from the Dean Martin Festival will go to music scholarships at area schools.

Also on Saturday, Living History Day at the Historic Fort Steuben is set from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Visitors Center’s Exhibition Hall.

The fort will offer reduced admission during Living History Day and visitors are encouraged to stop at the First Federal Land Office located next to Historic Fort Steuben.

History buffs also will want to visit the Jefferson County Historical Museum on Franklin Avenue, which will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday and there will be trolley rides available from the fort to the museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Hometown Celebration Street Fair Saturday will include car cruse-in on South Third Street from noon to 4 p.m., when food, craft vendors and free activities for kids will be available. An added bonus this year is an open house at the Grand Theater from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The week of food, entertainment and culture will conclude at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with a Hometown Celebration Concert at the Louis and Sandra Berkman Amphitheater featuring Beatlemania Magic.

Visitors will be in the city, and local residents have a chance to shine, be welcoming and turn out for the events.

The Dean Martin Festival is one of several much-anticipated events being held this week.

We hope you’ll join us downtown this week to meet with old friends, make new friends and enjoy some music while appreciating our town’s heritage and what makes it special.