BELLAIRE – The Sons of Italy have continued their annual tradition of making and selling sausage sandwiches despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the organization sold their sandwiches at their headquarters in 2020, but with Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival returning to Wheeling from Friday to Sunday, the Sons will be back at their usual booth.
This week, volunteers gathered to prepare the famous sausage.
âWe worked all day (Monday) preparing a lot of pork. We did a lot of boning. We had to cut it, season it, cool it â, Bill Ault, club president, said.
On Tuesday, they worked on 1,200 pounds of meat, including 1,700 pounds already done, for the same amount as in previous years.
“We are still doing 3,000 books for the Italian festival and we are still selling full”, he said. âIt’s very well received. We hope the weather will be nice. It won’t deter many people. “
Ault said the recent Blame My Roots country music festival was popular despite some rains.
” We are well. We had so many volunteers. We can’t do anything without volunteers â, said Ault. âThese volunteers are the heart of our Sons of Italy. â¦ We will be busy until (Friday).
He said the Sons have had about 20 new club members and many volunteer. He said that while many members have caught the coronavirus, few have died from the disease.
âThe pandemic took its toll because people weren’t coming out. Our volunteers did not volunteer â, he said. âA lot of them are between 70 and 80 years old, so we were doing a minimum. It really hurt us financially, but we’re on the mend right now. We arrive.
Ault said the volunteers were scrupulous about disinfection.
Last year they were only able to produce 1,300 pounds of pork.
The Sons of Italy is a non-profit organization that often offers scholarships to students as well as donations to local organizations. Last year, the organization was able to provide $ 6,000. The year before, he donated approximately $ 8,000.
Ault said the Sons were feeling the economic pinch.
“Prices have skyrocketed” he said, adding that members of the organization are debating the need to increase the price of sandwiches. The prices were in the order of $ 5.
Pete Cerminara, of Barnesville, originally from Italy, has lived in the United States for 64 years and has volunteered with Sons’ sausage making for 15 years.
âIt’s a very good quality sausage. All the food is good, they help a lot of people, and that’s what it is â, he said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic was having an impact on everyone. âNo one could help with that. We have all suffered from it. We just had to learn from it.
David DeBlasis from Maryland is originally from the Bellaire area and returns every year to volunteer and enjoy the festival. He has been a volunteer for six years.
“I’m coming back here because my family is here” he said, adding that he was visiting his loved ones and paying homage to his parents and others. âNever forget where you’re from.â¦ I love coming back to the small town.