Hosted by Main Street Fairmont, the 10th annual Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival will bring authentic Italian flavor to historic downtown Fairmont on Dec. 11 and 12, 2015.
As Fairmont celebrates the 10th anniversary year of the popular holiday Festival, its growth has created the need to extend the event to two days. The Festival Cucina Cooking School is planned for 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, at the Elks Lodge #294, 419 Adams St., Fairmont. Tickets are $25 per person and are available at the Main Street Fairmont office, 206 Adams St., or by calling (304) 366-0468. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, there will be a street fair, live music, artisan market, a homemade wine contest and authentic Italian cuisine downtown on the corner of Monroe and Adams streets. Indoor seating will be available.
The Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival seeks to preserve and celebrate an Italian holiday tradition. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian custom involving the serving of a seafood meal on Christmas Eve for the observance of “La Vigilia,” or the vigil of the Christ child. Among the southern-Italian immigrant community, this tradition has managed to survive, especially in North Central West Virginia.
“The Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival has become Marion County’s holiday homecoming. Although it has expanded over the years, we really want to keep it authentic and intimate,” said Shannon Tinnell, who along with her husband Robert Tinnell, helped found the festival in 2005. “This is the one time when everyone is Italian. It’s great to see so many people you know, but we have many people who come from out of state. We encourage everyone to come be part of our Fairmont family.”
In keeping with the family atmosphere, Kate Greene, Executive Director of Main Street Fairmont, is inviting the community to share photos of their past Seven Fishes family observances with Main Street Fairmont on social media. Post photos to the Feast of the Seven Fishes (Community Organization) page on Facebook. Tag tweets and posts with #7Fishes15.
“Come to the festival to eat, shop, visit with friends and family and celebrate Fairmont’s Italian-American heritage,” Greene said.
On Monroe Street on Dec. 12, attendees will find authentic Italian foods that will showcase local chefs and restaurants. Holiday favorites including lupini beans, fried smelt and calamari, beer, wine, soups, sandwiches, pastries and breads are sold on the street. The Gatherings on Monroe Street will host an Artisan Market and a visit from Santa Claus.
Area bands, dancers and vocalists will perform on the center stage. A unique combination of Italian and Christmas music and entertainment will be featured. Local crafters will showcase the best of their Italian roots and Appalachian heritage. Seating and tables will be located in the former firehouse on Monroe Street and in various locations under shelter to keep visitors warm.
The festivities will begin at 11 a.m. Dec. 12 with opening remarks from Dr. Judy P. Byers. Rita Brockway and the Florence Chico Cann Childrens Choir will perform at 11:15 p.m., followed by Benjamin DeFazio at noon, Sam and Ott at 1 p.m. and Frank Sinatra impersonator Michael Sonata at 1:30 p.m. The Homemade Wine Contest begins at 2:30 p.m. Sam and Ott perform again at 3 p.m., followed by Jenna Won’t Sing at 3:30 p.m. The City of Fairmont Christmas Parade will take place at 5 p.m. The parade will start on 4th Street and Fairmont Avenue, proceed on Adams Street, turn right onto Jefferson Street, cross the Million Dollar Bridge and end at Palatine Park. Mass will take place at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church, 407 Jackson St., at 5:30 p.m.
“This unique festival continues to grow and attract visitors to Fairmont,” said Leisha Elliott, Executive Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Marion County.
While attending the Festival, visitors and the community are invited to participate in other community events and to shop and dine downtown. Ice skating is available from 1 to 9 p.m. at Palatine Park. The Woman’s Club of Fairmont, 300 First St., will host Tea with a Twist from 1 to 4 p.m. Miles of animated Christmas displays can be viewed at the Celebration of Lights, Morris Park, Pleasant Valley Road, from 5 to 9 p.m. any Friday, Saturday or Sunday beginning on Friday, Nov. 27 through Dec. 27. The Arts & Antiques Marketplace, 205 Adams St., is hosting a juried art show sponsored by the Fairmont Arts & Humanities Commission and will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The 2015 Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival is sponsored by the Marion County Commission, the City of Fairmont, Fairmont Regional Medical Center, the Town of White Hall, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Marion County and Main Street Fairmont.