The pageant organizer is Anthony C. Julian, who has served as a trustee for the event since 1985.
“I’m the only original member of the festival left,” he said.
Each year since 1985, Julian has put together the line up of contestants who compete for the title. He said the only criteria that has to be met is that each contestant needs to have full or part Italian heritage. Other than that, they only have to submit their application by the cut-off date.
This year, 10 contestants that range in age from 16 to 21 will vie for the crown. Most of the talents that were listed are either vocal or dance. This year, there will be two not-so-common performances that include a clarinet solo and the first-ever comedy act.
“They put on a good show for the people,” Julian said.
Last year, Julian had 16 contestants, but only 10 made this year’s deadline. He said some have inquired about the contest, but said they didn’t have a talent because they were into sports like softball or soccer. Julian said he is looking at ways to include them in future contests.
From the Town Crier coverage area, this year’s contest will include Mariah Roberts, 16, a student at Fitch High School; Natalie Martzial, 18, of Boardman who will be attending YSU this fall; Michelle Rucci, 17, a student at Poland Seminary High school; and Angela Marie Krpicak, 17, a student at Canfield High School who was last year’s runner-up.
Julian said the girls will begin their competition on stage July 29 by talking about their Italian Heritage. After the talk, they will model on the stage. The second segment of the pageant will be the talent portion. At the end, a winner will be chosen for 2011.
Julian said he has seen a lot of talented kids throughout his years with the pageant. He said the three-day festival all comes back to the kids.
“What better way to promote our Italian Heritage than through our children,” he said.
The Italian Fest will run July 29, 30 and 31 in downtown Youngstown. Festivities will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, July 29 with opening ceremonies, followed by the Miss Italian Youngstown Pageant at 7 p.m. A Little King and Queen will also be crowned.