Interesting week ahead

We’ve nearly reached the middle of June, and, while the calendar might show that the official start of summer is still 11 days away, the number of activities that allow area residents to enjoy being outdoors continues to grow.

Consider the First Fridays on Fourth series. The second of the monthly outdoor street fairs was held along Fourth Street in downtown Steubenville on June 1. It offers something for many people of many ages. Children can have the opportunity to explore their creative sides through chalk art, people young and old can enjoy different styles of music and adults are able to sample the products of the region’s craft brewers.

It’s a pleasant way to spend a Friday evening, as the crowds who attended the first two installments have shown.

Many residents of the Tri-State Area also are spending Thursday evenings downtown, taking in a performance at the Berkman Amphitheater that’s part of the Fort Steuben Concert Series.

The fort was the location for last weekend’s Ohio Valley Frontier Days, which offered a glimpse of what life was like for those who were willing to build their lives along the Ohio River more than 200 years ago. It also serves as a yearly reminder of just how important a role Fort Steuben played in our nation’s westward expansion.

Those events have helped set the stage for what has become Steubenville’s biggest week of the year

It gets under way Tuesday with the opening of the 32nd-annual Grecian Food Festival presented by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. It’s one of the region’s premiere food festivals, and attracts residents from across the Tri-State Area — and beyond — to the corner of Fourth and South streets.

“We’re really excited about this year’s festival,” said Tony Mougianis, president of the church’s parish council. “It grows every year. We expect that in excess of 14,000 people will walk the grounds during the festival.”

Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, the festival provides an opportunity to sample authentic Greek food, learn about Greek traditions, tour the church and just enjoy a little bit of time with family and friends. Those who attend will find a different look, including outdoor baklava and sno-cone stations as well as jumping rides for children.

There’s a simple reason the event has enjoyed a run that’s lasted more than three decades — the dedication shown by the members of the church, who have been working for many months to ensure there will be plenty of food and other goodies available for purchase.

“The parishioners started working in February, and they are still working,” Mougianis explained. “They have made in excess of 14,000 grape leaves and 4,000 pieces of baklava — and we’ll still sell out. Everything is made from scratch. We’re looking forward to being able to share this with the community.”

This week always is special because it’s a chance to remember and pay tribute to the man who was born in Steubenville as Dino Crocetti and became know to the world as Dean Martin.

The Spot Bar will be the home of this year’s activities, which begin at 8 p.m. Thursday with the annual singing contest.

Festival activities continue at 8 p.m. Friday with performances by Bob Morelli, Dave Salera and Chris Denem. The Frank Gallo Band and special guest Romina Perri will take the stage at 1 p.m. Saturday and the festival wraps up at 8 p.m. Saturday with additional performances by Morelli, Salara and Denem. There’s no charge for the Thursday and Saturday afternoon events, and a $10 charge for the evening events on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday marks the return of Steubenville’s Hometown Celebration, which will bring an entire day of activities to the downtown area, beginning with the Dino Dash and Martin Meander at 9 a.m. The rest of the day will feature a wide variety of vendors; tours of the historic downtown area; Martin movie clips at Leonardo’s Coffeehouse; music, including Dean Martin tribute artists Russ Loniello and Joe Scalise; and an outdoor dance along North Fourth Street.

New to the event this year will be the Dean Martin Traveling Museum, which includes Martin items and other memorabilia. It will be set up in the lobby area for the former Chase Bank branch at the corner of Market and North Fourth streets.

These events offer a chance for area residents to show pride in their communities and their heritage, enjoy some great food, remember a person who is considered to be one of the greatest entertainers of all time and sit back and enjoy some time with old friends and make a new friend or two. It’s a week many look forward to all year long, and a chance to celebrate the things that are special to our region.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)