WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — It has been described as “the granddaddy of Italian Festivals” in all of America, and is certainly the biggest Italian Heritage Festival in West Virginia.  

In Wheeling, people are anxiously awaiting the Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, but what many do not realize is the amount of tourism this festival brings to the Friendly City. 

Over the last few years, events like the Italian Heritage Festival have suffered, as large gatherings were diminished due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year, they are ready once again to host the family gatherings, visits from friends, and out-of-town guests that have a great impact on surrounding businesses outside of the festival. 

Hotels, restaurants, and stores in Downtown Wheeling were all impacted by the pandemic, but Frank O’Brien, executive director of Visit Wheeling, says that they are going to thrive over the course of the coming weekend. 

“If 50,000 people come to your community and they are here all day long, and they are here as visitors – they are going to be spending money and sometimes that money adds up quite quickly. It could be as much as 3 million dollars in economic impact.”

Frank O’Brien – Executive Director of Visit Wheeling

We can expect to see around 100,000 people during the course of the Italian Heritage Festival weekend, and Frank says that he could not be more excited to welcome the usual crowd back to Wheeling. 

If you and your friends and family are planning on checking out the Italian Heritage Festival at Heritage Port this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you can expect the return of Little Italy, many great live music performances, and, as to be expected, great food.