BELLAIRE – The Sons of Italy have maintained their annual tradition of making and selling sausage sandwiches despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Organization members sold their sandwiches at their headquarters in 2020, but with Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival resuming Friday through Sunday in Wheeling, the Sons will be back at their usual booth.
This week volunteers gathered to prepare the famous sausage.
“We worked all day (Monday) and cooked a lot of pork. We boned a lot. We had to cut it out, season it, cool it. “ Bill Ault, president of the club, said.
On Tuesday they were working on 1,200 pounds of meat, with 1,700 pounds already finished, for the same amount as in previous years.
“We always make £ 3,000 for the Italian festival and we are always sold out.” he said. “That is very well received. We hope the weather will be good. That won’t put a lot of people off. “
Ault said the recent Blame My Roots country music festival was popular despite some rainfall.
“We’re fine. We had so many volunteers. It doesn’t work without volunteers “, said Ault. “These volunteers are the heart of our Sons of Italy. … We are busy until (Friday). “
He said the Sons have about 20 new club members and many are volunteering. He said while many members contracted the coronavirus, few died from the disease.
“The pandemic took its toll because people didn’t come out. Our volunteers did not volunteer “, he said. “A lot of them are in their 70s or 80s so we did minimal. It has really hurt us financially, but we are currently on the mend. We’ll come with you. “
Ault said the volunteers were diligent in disinfecting.
Last year they could only make 1,300 pounds of pork.
The Sons of Italy is a non-profit organization that often gives scholarships to students as well as donations to local organizations. Last year the organization raised $ 6,000. Last year around $ 8,000 were donated.
Ault said the Sons are feeling the economic hardship.
“The prices have skyrocketed” He said, adding that members of the organization are debating whether there might be a need to raise the price of sandwiches. Prices are in the $ 5 range.
Pete Cerminara of Barnesville, originally from Italy, lived in the United States for 64 years and has been volunteering for sausage making for his sons for 15 years.
“It’s a very good quality sausage. The food is good, you help a lot of people, and that’s what it’s about. “ he said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic had hit everyone. “Nobody could help. We all suffered from it. We just had to learn from that. “
Maryland’s David DeBlasis hails from the Bellaire area and returns annually to volunteer and enjoy the festival. He has been doing voluntary work for six years.
“I’m coming back here because my family is here” he said, adding that he is visiting his relatives and showing respect to his parents and others. “Never forget where you come from. … I like to come back to the small town.”