City encourages residents to celebrate their heritages

SALEM – The “i” in iFest may stand for International, but it’s also a play on words to indicate it’s a festival to celebrate each person’s ethnic background and ancestry.

“You’re celebrating your heritage. We want people to come out and celebrate their own heritage and celebrate Salem,” Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Audrey Null said.

Organizers of the annual festival decided this year to hold a one-day event on Aug. 10 in the municipal lot near Timberlanes on Pershing Street rather than a two-day festival as in past years. Null said they’ve always known attendance was good on Saturday and after the Grande Parade.

“This way we can concentrate all of our efforts to one day. All we need is the people,” iFest Co-chairman Frank Zamarelli said.

“We hope that they’ll think of making it a daylong event,” iFest Co-chairman Steve Faber said about attendees.

With the focus on families, he and Zamarelli said there will plenty for everybody to enjoy, from the Jason Alan Magic Show to a Meet the Quakers pep rally, the Grande Parade and a band known as the Sonic Boomers sponsored by the city of Salem, all for free.

There will be activities for children, such as a chalk-drawing contest, and all types of food, too, plus something of interest for the history buffs at the Salem Historical Society.

Zamarelli said Jason Alan is a Salem native and a graduate of Salem High School and his magic show and illusions will entertain all ages. His show will begin at 12:15 p.m., following the opening ceremonies at noon on the stage in the municipal lot.

Other free entertainment will include Attila Samu and Salem High School choir singers, the Sebring area dancing troupe known as Art in Motion Dance & Fitness Studio, the cast of Salem Community Theatre’s “Hairspray,” a Tae Kwon Do demonstration, the Meet the Quakers! Teams’ Pep Rally at 4 p.m., the Grande Parade at 6 p.m. followed by the Sonic Boomers.

Zamarelli said they were grateful to the city officials, especially Mayor John Berlin and Auditor Betty Brothers, for offering to use the municipal events fund to cover the cost of the professional band, the Sonic Boomers.

Prior to the noon start time, there’s also going to be a pre-iFest warmup and workout sponsored by the Salem Community Center in the municipal lot with a Zumba demonstration and Silver Sneakers workout.

For children, there will be a petting zoo, pony rides, a train ride, face painting and other activities. The chalk drawing contest will begin at 1 p.m. on Lundy Avenue. The Salem Historical Society will host an ethnic heritage of Salem display.

So far, there are nine confirmed vendors for food, offering Greek, Italian, Mexican and American cuisine, including seafood and sweets such as apple dumplings and cobbler.

In an effort to promote the iFest, flyers are being passed out at daycares, community organizations and churches are being asked to put information in their newsletters and bulletins and signs will be placed in various areas.

Local merchants, clubs, organizations and churches who want to take part can rent a table for a display or to give away or sell material or hold a fundraiser. The deadline for filing applications is Aug. 3.

For details, contact the chamber office at 330-337-3473 or check on the website at