Youngstown Italian Fest Canceled; Plans ‘Put in Motion’ for 2025

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Greater Youngstown Italian Fest has been canceled this year.

“After much debate and discussion, the Italian American Foundation of Youngstown feels that we could not provide the successful and quality product … the Mahoning Valley has come to expect and so richly deserves,” John Rossetti, president of the festival, wrote in a Facebook post. “Please know that many factors went into this decision. Ultimately, the Fest could not produce a viable product for the public to enjoy in 2024.”

The festival had been scheduled for Aug. 2-4 on East Federal Street, downtown.

Rossetti said it will return in 2025. “Plans have already been put in motion,” he wrote.

The Italian American Foundation, which produces the Italian Fest as its main fundraiser, awards scholarships every year in tandem with the event and intends to honor its 2024 recipients, Rossetti posted.

In year’s past, the Italian Fest took place on Central Square and extended along East Federal Street for several blocks. Because of the closure of Federal Street between Phelps and Champion streets due to road reconstruction, festival organizers had originally planned to move the event east a few blocks along East Federal.

In the wake of the May 28 explosion at the Realty Tower, the area surrounding the building within 200 feet has been closed to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic, which led to more street closures and potential safety worries among festivalgoers.

Organizers attempted to move the festival but could not find a suitable location.

Melanie Clark-Penella, the city of Youngstown’s coordinator for downtown events, said she suggested a few options to the organizers, who ultimately decided to cancel the event.

Earlier this month, the Simply Slavic Festival was forced to move from the same area of East Federal Street to the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

Two other downtown events the weekend of the Italian Festival may have further complicated any attempt to move it. The annual Y-Live concert, featuring country music superstar Tim McGraw, is Friday, Aug. 2, at Wean Park, and the Black Men’s Wellness Day is Aug. 3 at The Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

The Y-Live concert, which is on a Friday this year for the first time, is expected to draw about 20,000 fans and takes up almost all of the available parking downtown and in the Youngstown State University area.

The Italian Fest was launched in 1985 in downtown Youngstown. It moved to the Canfield Fairgrounds for a few years but returned to downtown in 2007.

In past years, the Italian Fest has drawn upwards of 40,000 people over its three days.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.