CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – On the third Sunday of the month, in Clarksburg on West Main Street, cars are lined on the side of the street, waiting for their fresh fried fritti. The consistent sale of the fritti at the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival Headquarters keeps admission and entertainment free at the festival on labor day weekend.
“The purpose of selling the fritti here in front of the heritage office is to keep the Italian heritage alive here in Clarksburg, and to celebrate the recipes and traditions of our ancestors, which is really the mission behind the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival,” said Marissa Maria Bailey, West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival Regina Maria the 43rd.
Weege Vargo, who has been involved with the festival for 43 years, says that one of the things Italian descendants remember most about their parents, and grandparents is that they made a lot of bread.
“My grandmother made it with traditional white dough, and did not put them in sugar, and we then would dip them in sugar in a cup, if we wanted sugar on them. So, different people make them different, and I think its just a preference as to if you like it a little more sweet or you like the more traditional bread dough,” said Weege Vargo, West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival Board Member, Multiple Committee Chairperson.
While the fritti from the festival office every third Sunday of each month is a sweet fritti, even without the sugar, Vargo says one of the popular ways in the old days, and some traditional first and second generation Italians, who want anchovies in their fritti.
“I can tell you that many people pull up in front of the office to purchase their fritti, and they say oh I love this smell, it reminds me of nani’s basement, or its reminds me of Sundays at my aunts home, when we all gathered around for our pasta, and there always was the fritti,” said Vargo.
Vargo says many Italians made bread because it was cost effective, and so to avoid any waste, they would use up every bit of the dough, and with scraps they would make the fritti.
“It’s just the smell and the taste, and there’s nothing like the taste of a fresh hot fritti,” said Vargo.
For those who don’t have much of a sweet tooth, the fritti can be served fresh and hot without sugar since the dough is sweet. The fritti will be sold at the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival to raise funds to continue operations by the festivals committee and board members throughout the year.