If you take a stroll through downtown Clarksburg on Saturday morning, your nose may lead you to Jackson Square. The clanking of pots and the smell of pasta sauce cooking can only mean one thing – the 27th Annual West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival Pasta Cook-Off!
First time competitor Steve Felosa is very excited for the event. “The Cook-off for me, is a matter of Italian pride, family, and tradition!” Steve brings with him many memories of cooking with his Italian grandparents. As he recounted some of these childhood memories, one that stood out was the fact that many sauces he grew up with were meatless. This was common in the Old Country, although whole pork was added for flavor. These memories have influenced his cooking and he has carried the tradition through to his sauce. Steve’s family is very active with the WVIHF and he feels it is time for him to participate while doing something he loves. “After threatening to enter this contest for over 5 years, this year I will be cooking with my “La Famiglia” and drinking wine instead of beer. If you listen closely, you may hear the sounds of the past and the utterings of…. Mangia! Mangia! (Eat, Eat),” said Felosa.
The tasting begins at noon. Sampling bags can be purchased for $5.00 and allows customers to receive one voting ballot. The People’s Choice Award is chosen by the public and participants are required to prepare at least 10 pounds of pasta, so bring your appetite! All sauces are made on site, so as you stroll down the aisle, you can stop and watch the cooks in action. Cooks can prepare either a red or a white sauce. Awards are given out for best red sauce, best white sauce, Judge’s Choice, and People’s Choice. The WVIHF dancers will also be entertaining the crowd while you’re enjoying the sights and smells of the cook-off.
Perhaps you are a home vintner and would like to enter some wine into the homemade wine contest. The categories include dry white, dry red, fruit and berry, sweet red, and sweet white. There is a $5.00 entry fee for the contest and a bottle of your best wine can either be dropped off at the WVIHF office by 4:00 PM on Friday, August 28 or to Jackson Square by 11:00 AM on Saturday, August 29.
The Pasta Cook-Off is one of many events that lead up to the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival, which will be held next weekend, September 4-6 in downtown Clarksburg. So, let your nose be your guide as you bring your appetite to Jackson Square on Saturday morning!