SALEM - A community event next weekend will celebrate for the first time not just Italian heritage, but multiple heritages represented throughout the city.
The inaugural Salem International Fest, presented by the Salem Retail and Business Association, will be held Aug. 13-14 in the Timberlanes parking lot and the nearby municipal parking lot near Huntington Bank. The event kicks off at 3:50 p.m. Aug. 13 with an opening ceremony led by Mayor Jerry Wolford.
Event Chair Ginger Grilli said the organizers evaluated the cultural make-up of the city and invited in musical acts and food vendors that represented those cultural groups.
"We looked at music that tried to reflect the people that live here," she said.
That music on Aug. 13 includes Celtic music and dance by Maidens IV, who will take to the stage at 5:10 and 8:25 p.m.; Eastern-European polka courtesy of Del Sinchak Band at 6:45 and 10 p.m., American favorites by Atilla Samu and his students at 7:50 p.m. and Sugartree Alley's steel drum sounds at 4:05 p.m.
"We don't have a big Caribbean population but we do have a good steel drum band," Grilli explained Sugartree Alley's presence.
Aug. 14's musical entertainment will consist of Latino group Groupo Latino at 4:40 and 6:50 p.m., Italian Music by Mirella the Musician at 5:45 and 7:55 p.m., show tunes by Salem Community Theatre at 4:05 p.m. and alternative rock band A Cinema for Andrea wrapping up the festival from 9-11 p.m.
"We knew that there is a lot of young people and we wanted something tailored to young adults," Grilli said of the final act.
Guest announcers will appear before all musical acts and will offer brief tributes to the cultures that make up Salem's populace and how members of those cultures have helped shape present-day Salem.
Food will be another outlet for experiencing the various cultures represented in the city. A total of 16 vendors, some commercial and some from neighborhood groups, will offer up Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Mexican, Polish, American, German, Latin American, Slovakian, Slovenian and possibly Chinese cuisine.
"You'd be crazy if you leave hungry because there's lots of good food," Chamber of Commerce President Audrey Null commented.
But music and food aren't the only attractions at the festival. Activities for children and families will abound, including pony rides, a trackless train, face painting, Historical Society trolley tours, a coloring contest and a vendor tent.
Across the street at Fun Factory, more activities including a ring toss and a quarter toss will be set up.
City police will be on hand to provide child identity kits to parents.
Penn Avenue will be closed for the event but all other streets will remain open.
The festival's grand parade will begin on East State Street at 6 p.m. Aug. 14 and will follow a route along Ellsworth Avenue, dispersing in the Broadway Plaza.
Organizers encourage those attending the festival to visit Salem's businesses while they are there.
The Salem International Fest is successor to the Italian Festival, which lasted for two years in the city. The Salem Italian American Club will, however, continue the tradition with its own music schedule and cuisine from 4 p.m. to midnight on Aug. 13 and from noon to midnight on Aug. 14.
Entertainment on Aug. 13 begins with Steve Fazzini's Italian variety music show at 5 p.m. and rock band Uptown Saturday Night at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14's musical groups will be DJ All Night Long at noon, 5p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and the bands Ruckus and Damaged Goods at 2 and 8:30 p.m., respectively.
Food at the club will include hot sausage, steak hoagies, fries and more from Two Sisters and Son; barbecue pulled pork, ribs, chicken and more from Smokin' Marty's; pasta and meatballs, funnel cakes and fried dough from DeMaiolo's and the club's own Italian greens.
The club will also host the 12th annual Rocco Mango Bocce Tournament at 5 p.m. Aug. 13. All proceeds will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.