Brier Hill keeps tradition of original Italian festival 25 years ago

The festival runs through Sunday along Calvin and Victoria streets on Youngstown's north side

Brier Hill is the longest continuously running Italian festival in Youngstown.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – One of the Valley’s oldest traditions, the Brier Hill Italian Fest, kicked off its 25th year Thursday on Youngstown’s north side.

Through Sunday, there will be authentic Italian food, live music, games, contests and entertainment along Calvin and Victoria streets.

The annual festival brings back memories for people who grew up in the once thriving neighborhood.

“It’s just a nice place. It reminds you of when you were kids…going to school, running around these streets and getting in trouble,” Papa Pesce said.

It is the longest continuously running Italian festival in Youngstown. The people who come say it has been going on so long because it’s just a big family reunion.

“It’s not like other ones they have in parking lots and whatever else,” Tony Pesce said. “It takes place in the old neighborhood that’s Italian, so it’s almost like a homecoming for a lot of people that come back here.”

Dominic Modarelli took charge of the festival this year after his father who started it passed away. He says keeping the tradition of the original festival is what makes Brier Hill unique.

“Everybody lived in everyone’s backyard. They went into the gardens, everybody shared food, they ate together…you got the Brier Hill pizza, the sausage. It’s just a family neighborhood.”

The festival runs from 4 p.m. to midnight on Thursday and Friday, and noon to midnight on Saturday and Sunday.

The opening ceremony, featuring the Man of the Year, will start at 7 p.m. Friday. Saturday features a hot pepper contest and there will be a wine tasting contest on Sunday.

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