SALEM - Area residents can celebrate their heritage during this year's Salem iFest, an international celebration featuring entertainment, food and fellowship from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 10 and 3 to 10 p.m. Aug. 11 in downtown Salem.
"It's an attempt for people to celebrate who they are and where they come from," event co-chairman Frank Zamarelli said.
The iFest will take place in the municipal parking lot across from Timberlanes where there will be a number of children's activities available, international cuisine to taste and multi-cultural entertainment to enjoy.
Salem iFest performers
The Allegro Dance Company, an Italian dance troupe, will showcase “All Roads Lead to Rome” during its hour-long performance at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 10 for the Salem iFest, a festival celebrating the various ethnic heritages of area residents from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 10 and 3 to 10 p.m. Aug. 11 in the municipal lot near Timberlanes. The festival will include the annual Salem Grande Parade which steps out at 6 p.m. Aug. 11, traveling west on State Street from Union Avenue to Ellsworth Avenue, north on Ellsworth and disbanding at Second Street. (Submitted photo)
Zamarelli explained the festival originally started as an Italian Fest several years ago, which was successful, but then they starting talking about including other nationalities and the International Festival was born.
"Salem's always been an ethnic melting pot," he said, noting the area became a settling point for immigrants, including his grandparents.
Audrey Null, executive director of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, said Lyle Printing and Publishing designed a new logo for the festival, with the name shortened to iFest and the familiar Quaker Sam included.
"We want everybody to come out and enjoy being part of Salem and celebrating their own individual heritage," she said.
Event co-chair Steve Faber said many bigger communities have ethnic celebrations, such as the Greek fest in Warren or the Italian fest in Youngstown, but Salem is having one that's all-inclusive. He said it's like a family reunion, or homecoming, where everyone has a chance to get together.
The atmosphere and entertainment is free, featuring an Italian dance troupe known as the Allegro Dance Company and an Australian family entertainer known as Seona McDowell on Aug.10. McDowell tells stories and sings songs about Australian poetry, history and folk dancing and has performed all over the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The Allegro Dance Company will present its new production, "All Roads Lead to Rome," showcasing traditional Italian dances and some powerful and energetic modern moves.
The schedule on Aug. 10 begins with opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. featuring local singing talent from Salem High School with Attila Samu and students, followed by McDowell at 5:30 p.m. and the Allegro Dance Company at 6:30 p.m. McDowell will retake the stage at 7:30 p.m., with local showman Stormn' Normn' closing out the evening from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
A 65-foot Mobile Military History Museum from the Marlboro Volunteers sponsored by Salem AMVETS Post 45 will be on display in the lot on Aug. 10 and then at the AMVETS Post 45 location on South Broadway Avenue on Aug. 11. Information on the museum can be seen on the website at www.marlborovolunteersinc.com.
Marlboro military vehicles and units in the Grande Parade will be sponsored by the Men's Auxiliary of the Salem V.F.W., Sons of AMVETS of Salem and the Washingtonville V.F.W.
On Aug. 11, the schedule begins with the Welcome Ceremony featuring SHS local singing talent. Salem Fun Factory will host a chalk drawing contest at 3:15 p.m. on Lundy Avenue. At 3:30 p.m., members of the Salem Community Theatre "Footloose the Musical" cast will entertain the crowd, followed by a Meet the Quaker Teams Pep Rally at 4 p.m. with the pep band and athletes in attendance.
The pep rally will be followed by a pizza eating contest sponsored by Pizza Joe's of Salem, with brackets for kids age 8 to 17 years old and adults 18 years old and up.
The Grande Parade will take over at 6 p.m., stepping out from Union Avenue and traveling west on State Street though downtown to Ellsworth Avenue, turning north on Ellsworth Avenue and then disbanding at Second Street. The theme this year is the same as the festival, "Celebrating Your Heritage."
At 7:15 p.m., the Sugartree Alley steel drum band will play on the stage, with Stormn' Normn' taking over at 8:30 until 10 p.m.
Both nights will include the Aut Mori Grotto clowns, face painting, a bounce house sponsored by Real Life Salem and pony rides and mini-train rides. Clubs and organizations also plan to set up tables.
Marketing sponsors for the Salem iFest include Visiting Angels and Summit Federal Credit Union.
The deadline for applications for the Grande Parade is Tuesday. Both parade applications and vendor applications can be downloaded at the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce website at www.salemohiochamber.org.