In 1906 a group of Italian immigrants built a church in a small part of northeast Ohio. Wanting an Italian-speaking parish, they built a legacy which continues today. Almost 30 years later, Our Lady of Mount Carmel began hosting their Summer Festival. Nearly 90 years after the start, this festival continues with food, friends and fun.
The Mt. Carmel Summer Festival remains a staple in Niles, OH. This festival is a combination of summer fun and Italian celebration. The festival holds appeal for all ages. Children come for the rides and the games while the adults have many reasons for attending. Whether it be family, friends or food, the residents of Niles attend almost religiously.
David Giancola has attended the festival since he was young and has never missed a year. “For me the best part of the Feast would be the homemade original foods: the cheese puffs are homemade. No one ever makes the cheese puffs like Mt. Carmel. No one makes better food than Niles’ Mt. Carmel Church Festival.”
Trish Scarmuzzi has been attending for years. Her family has been a member of the parish almost since its beginning. “I go because this helps the parish to come together as a community.” Natalie Comer has a very simple reason for attending. “I’ve been going for 40 years It’s a tradition. The food is the best, the music, the people. It’s just what I’ve always known.”
Family plays a huge part in Italian culture and this little festival in the corner of Ohio is no exception. Families have turned this event into a tradition to pass on. It is tradition that drives people like David and Trish to continue enjoying the festival. They were given the gift of enjoying Italian culture in a fun way. The festival gives the people taking part in it an appreciation for the culture. Whether they realize it or not, they are being surrounded by the Italian culture that the Italian immigrants brought to this corner of the world years ago.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Summer Festival is a fantastic melding of the Italian and American cultures and everyone should have a chance to check it out. It blends the three most important factors of Italian culture, family, food and tradition, into one big celebration of summer. Vickie Rocco and her husband have attended for years. “When you get older, memories are smiles for your soul. When you are younger, you take the children - watch them play games, ride the rides, then they grow up and you continue to go because you just “have” to. Your memories are there.”