The annual kickoff and scholarship dinner for the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival was held Tuesday night at West Virginia Northern Community College.
Numerous high school seniors from schools all over the Valley were awarded scholarships to help further their education.
This year students had to write an essay about how someone in their Italian Heritage has influenced them.
While you may think the festival is all about the food, family and fireworks, board members say those are secondary to their top priority.
"90 percent of us are educators on the festival board. We have a couple attorneys, we have a couple accountants. But most of us are educators and we do the festival because we believe in education, we believe in the scholarships and we work to continue to give scholarships out year after year after year," said President Marian Paravano Grubor.
Former Ohio Senator Lou Gentile was named this year's Italian-American of the Year and he will be honored throughout the festival.
7News anchor Tate Blanchard will be the emcee of the official kickoff dinner in July.
The Italian Festival is held from July 21 until 23th this summer.