STEUBENVILLE - Rhonda and Michael Waddell had never been to Steubenville or the Dean Martin Festival before this week.
Now, they are already thinking about coming back next year.
Carol and Bill Kelly of Indianapolis are marking their fourth visit to the Dean Martin Festival and already have plans for a visit again in 2015.
TAKING A PHOTO OF DEAN — Rhonda Waddell of Pewawkee, Wis., takes a photo of the Dean Martin mural at the Hollywood Shopping Center Kroger Friday afternoon. She and her husband are making their first visit to Steubenville and they said they were trying to see all the sights during their weekend trip. - Dave Gossett
"Russ Loniello, one of the Dean Martin impersonators, is my husband's cousin. And, Russ kept telling us we needed to come to the Dean Martin Festival. So we decided this year to make the trip. We arrived Wednesday and kind of took it easy Thursday. Then we headed to the Spot Bar for the karaoke contest Thursday night. And. we will be at the Spot Bar for all of the festival events through Saturday night," said Rhonda Waddell of Pewawkee, Wis .
She and her husband were at the Hollywood City City Center Kroger store Friday afternoon to check out the Dean Martin mural and to visit with Loniello, who was busy inside the store during an autograph signing session.
"We had dinner at Naples Restaurant and plan to visit the Greek food festival before it ends. And, we want to see the sights in Steubenville this weekend before we return home Sunday. We want to visit Historic Fort Steuben and try to check on the Grand Theater," said Waddell.
"This has been a fun weekend and worth the trip. This city has a lot to offer," she remarked.
The Kellys like Dean Martin "a lot."
"We love his music and enjoy coming to the festival every year to watch the performers," noted Carol Kelly.
"We visited the Greek food festival, which has delicious food available. And, we will be at the Spot Bar for the final day of performances. Then we will drive home Sunday," Bill Kelly said.
The Waddells and Kellys were among a noticeable out-of-town crowd at the Dean Martin Festival this weekend.
Festival organizer Rose Angelica said she saw more out-of-town visitors this year than in past years.
"We had a very good crowd Thursday and Friday evenings. And expect even more people at the Saturday performances. We have a lot of new people this year as well as old friends," remarked Angelica.
The entertainment at the Spot Bar today will start at 1 p.m. with the Frank Gallo Italian Band.
The Dean Martin Festival will continue at 8 p.m. today with Sputzy opening the evening festivities followed by a tribute to Dean Martin by Loniello, the Dean & Jerry Show and a Neal Diamond Tribute by Chris Denem.
Tours of the Dean Martin Room at the Jefferson County Mansion Museum on Franklin Avenue will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and trolley rides from the fort to the museum are available today.
Dean Martin displays and entertainment will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Grand Theater on South Fourth Street followed by tours of the theater that is currently under renovation efforts.
The Dean Martin car cruise-in will be held on South Third Street from noon to 4 p.m.
For history lovers, Historic Fort Steuben will be open with reduced admission for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..
Susan Guy, the author of the recently released "Mobsters, Madams and Murder in Steubenville, Ohio" will be autographing her books at the visitors center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m..
Video clips of Dean Martin movies and television shows where he mentioned Steubenville will be playing in the center's conference room, and a photo exhibit will be on display in the center focusing on the demise of the local steel mills.
Starting at 11 a.m. today, the Fort Steuben Park will be the site of the Hometown Celebration street fair, where youngsters can enjoy a variety of free activities at the Kurt James Fun & Games.
Ice cream, elephant ears, bison burgers, hot dogs, lemonade and kettle corn will tempt the taste buds. And vendors will offer bargains along the walkway while music and entertainment will be featured around the fountain.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first American tour, a performance by Beatlemania Magic will be held in the Berkman Amphitheater at 6:30 p.m. and a free will offering will be taken.
The occasionally brief rain showers this week didn't discourage visitors to the 28th-annual Grecian Food Festival in downtown Steubenville, which concluded its four-day run Friday night.
According to the Rev. Nick Halkias, pastor of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, "it always rains during our festival. But we have our indoor dining hall plus a huge tent on the street. So you may have to dodge a few raindrops after you park but the food and entertainment were well worth a few rain drops," Halkias stated.
The Friday night crowd included U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)