This year's Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival kicked off with a dinner at the McClure Hotel.
Local businessman Bob Contraguerro, Sr. the owner and CEO of Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration took the honor of 2012 Italian-American of the year.
Contraguerro said in light of his family's humble beginnings in Wheeling, the honor means much.
''My family, go back to my mother and dad, both full-blooded Italians, both sets of grandparents came over from Italy to the United States, and then met and had children'', said Contraguerro. ''It's just a great honor for me. I never dreamed I would receive an honor like this."
Contraguerro started his business in 1977. It now services 16 states and has over a hundred employees.
It will be a big weekend starting Friday for Contragerro as he and thousands of people celebrate the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival.