ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – It’s the event that the whole Valley and beyond looks forward to every summer and at their annual media night, Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival recognized the Italian American of the Year, Tom Fato, as well as all of the festival scholarship winners.  

Two high school seniors selected from each of the six counties involved in the Italian Festival received $1,000 each. 

”The students have to fill out actually a pretty complete application compared to most. And one of the things they do is they write down what their heritage means to them and how it’s influenced their lives. This is really part of our twofold mission. And one is to be able to provide a little bit of help to locals, local students. So, this is really kind of a big deal for us and also the man of the year.”

Michele Fabbro – President, Italian Heritage Festival Board of Directors

Tom Fato was named the 2023 Italian American of the Year for his dedication to the community growing up in Steubenville and being an educator in the Ohio Valley for over 30 years.  

He says that seeing students here just as in touch with their heritage as he was growing up is a full-circle moment for him receiving this honor. 

”I was privileged to grow up right across the street from my grandparents, so I experienced a whole lot of the Italian traditions, all the foods, all the recipes, all the wonderful gardens that she had. And it was basically an Italian neighborhood. So everywhere you went, there was Italians.”

Tom Fato – Italian American of the Year 2023

This year marks the 40th year for Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, and all the evening’s honorees will continue to be celebrated at the festival at Heritage Port this summer. 

”It’s a great time to have that little reunion with your friends and a lot of good things happen. And by supporting this festival, we support education in the Ohio Valley, which I think is a very important thing.”

Tony Filberto – Chairperson, Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival

Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival is at Heritage Port from July 28th to July 30th. 

For their 40th year, Donny Iris and the Cruisers will be performing along with their Italian performances in Little Italy.