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Canfield festival kicks off for two weekends

June 26, 2014
By J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

The Canfield community is set for two weekends of celebration for the Fourth of July. Festivities kick off this Saturday with the Canfield Rotary's fireworks display at the Canfield Fairgrounds.

''We always hold our event the Saturday before the Fourth of July,'' said Rotarian and Canfield Township trustee Marie Cartwright. ''It is too hard to pull off on a weekday and with people working, it is hard to get volunteers.''

On Saturday, the Rotary will be charging $10 per vehicle to come into the fairgrounds. This year, guests will get a lot more for their money than just fireworks.

Article Photos

The Canfield Rotary Fireworks Committee is ready to put on a gala event Saturday at the Canfield Fairgrounds. Committee members include, in front, Margot Baird, Dolores Saunders and Carolina Castelli-Figley. In middle row are Mike Raulins, Eric Axelson, David Moliterno and Sam Boak. In back are Don Dragish Jr., Jack Saunders and Robert DiRusso.

The gates of the fairgrounds will open at 4 p.m. Those wishing to come early will have a variety of family activities including refreshments, face-painting, pony rides, and areas where families can enjoy their own picnic.

For entertainment, Rotary is bringing in the Little River Band to perform in the grandstand. The concert is free to all who come through the gates. Opening for the headliners will be J.D. Eicher.

''Having the Little River Band perform will probably be the biggest free concert around with a major recording artist,'' Cartwright said. ''It is pretty wild.''

After dark, the fireworks display will take place and is said to be the largest display in the state.

''We are using eight inch shells,'' said Rotarian Don Dragish. ''They are the largest you can get.''

Cartwright said the whole evening is coming with a hefty price tag of $103,000. Of that, $32,000 was the cost to bring in the Little River Band. She said when band members heard it was for a non-profit event, they saved the Rotary money by taking care of their own hotel and limo accomodations.

''That is $4,000 to $5,000 that we would normally spend, she said.

Cartwright did say the Rotary Club hopes to fill the fairgrounds to help offset the cost of putting it on. The rain date for the event will be Sunday, June 29.

On the Fourth of July, the fun heads to the Village Green for the usual holiday events, beginning with the morning races. The day begins with the Kids' Race around the Green at 8:15 a.m. and the annual Firecracker 4 Mile Run at 8:30 a.m. Registration for both races begins at 7:30 a.m. that day in the Canfield Township Hall.

The Kids' Race is at 8:15 a.m. and starts in front of Farmers National Bank, continuing around the Green. The Firecracker 4 Mile starting line is in front of the Dairy Queen on the South Green. The course goes North on North Broad Street to Sleepy Hollow, then winds around past the high school.

The official street closings, according to the police chief are as follows: at 8 a.m. police will shut down the south end of the green in preparation for the kids foot race. At 8:20 a.m. they will begin to shut down for the adult foot race. At 8:30 a.m. the adult race begins. The south end of the square remains closed and state Route 46 (Broad Street) north to Sleepy Hollow will be closed. State Route 46 and the north square will open once all runners enter Sleepy Hollow approximately 15 minutes after the start. U.S. 224 at Cardinal Drive will close at approximately 8:45 a.m. and only open intermittently until 9:30 a.m. Railroad Street at Newton and Newton at Lisbon will also be closed from 8:45 a.m. until approximately 9:30 a.m.

Following the race, the 49th annual parade will be completing its line up and will start officially at 10:10 a.m. Leading the parade this year as Grand Marshall will be Canfield's musical great, Paul Rossi. He served in the infantry in World War II on the beach at Normandy, and after returning home, served as Canfield High School band director. He began teaching music at CHS and in 1951 and had a total of 51 students.

Rossi retired after more than 30 years in music education. In 1954, he began the concerts on the Village Green, a tradition that continues to this present day. It was through these concerts that he helped form the Youngstown Symphonic Band, which will perform in the Gazebo at 1 p.m.

Clare Neff has been on the Fourth of July committee for nine years and recalls how things have changed.

''I grew up in Canfield and remember the parade from when I was 9 or 10 years old,'' she said. ''The parade was much smaller then, and I think it was almost all Canfield people in the parade. Some of the fire departments from nearby communities also joined. The Canfield Community Band under the direction of Paul Rossi marched in the parade, then, in later years, they rode on a flatbed trailer. There also was a pet fair. I remember taking my dog each year, and my brother took his rabbit.''

She said in the 1970s there was a volleyball tournament on the North Green and a handful of games for kids. That area has grown quite a bit and has taken over the North Green.

The Fourth of July committee consists of Enid Maldonado and David Burch who share the overall committee responsibilities. Maldonado also takes care of all the financials and organizing the concession area.

John Craig and Steve Bennett are in charge of the antique automobiles. Jeff Moliterno oversees the dignitaries any politicians and elected officials who wish to participate. Mark Sabol makes sure there are cars for the committee members and the Grand Marshal to ride in. He and Jim Queen, along with any other committee members who is able to help, pitch in to organize all of the parade elements at the fairgrounds the morning of the parade.

Dr. Gary Hubbard is the parade chairman, ensuring that all of the marching bands, clowns, fire trucks and floats are all included and that the parade begins appropriately with the Color Guard. The kids' games are run by Jill Barton and Anthony Fusillo. They make sure the games from last year are cleaned and set up the day before the parade, and then returned to storage at the end of the day. They also recruit volunteers to help.

The police liaison is Chief Chuck Colucci who makes sure the Firecracker 4 Mile Race and the parade go off without a hitch. Neff does the website and publicity and provides the sound system for the reviewing stand.

''I enjoy every Fourth of July in Canfield,'' Neff said. ''It's a great community day where neighbors all come together, everyone is joyful. I love that so many people start putting their chairs out along the parade route the day before, to make sure they have a front row seat. Lots of families on South Broad Street have parties, since the parade passes right in front of their door. Many former residents come to visit [and] catch up with old friends. The festivities just serve to remind us of the importance of America's freedoms.''

The Canfield Fourth of July committee welcomes anyone interested in helping to email the committee at

''We can also use all of the financial support from sponsors and donations of time and services from local companies,'' Neff said.

During and following the parade, the War Veterans Museum will be open for tours.



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