Frankie Avalon set to sing at Italian Festival

by Julie Cryser


(May 21) So far, the entertainment lineup for Clarksburg's Italian Heritage Festival combines a little old and a little new, with beach favorite Frankie Avalon, country star Jo Dee Messina and possibly '50s crooner Fabian as three of the headliners.

According to the festival's chairman, there is a possibility Fabian will be the headliner for Friday, the key entertainment night for the festival.

"There is a very good possibility he will be here," said Louis Iquinto, the festival board chairman.

Iquinto said Fabian, a singer and teen idle from the late 1950s whose signature song was "Turn Me Loose," will be passing through Clarksburg on his way to get married and has agreed to stop for a show.

Avalon and Messina will also perform during the Labor Day weekend event, though Rosalyn Queen, the festival's executive director, refused to release the exact times they will perform.

Avalon is best known for his beach movies of the 1960s like "Beach Blanket Bingo," "Beach Party" and "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini," in which he played alongside Annette Funicello.

"Frankie Avalon is crossing the milestone of his 24th year as one of America's leading entertainers," according to "LaVoce Italiana," the Italian Heritage Festival newsletter.

Avalon is also played in the movie "Grease" and sang "Beauty School Dropout."

Avalon has not only been an entertainer, however, he's also been active as the national ambassador for the National Arthritis Foundation, according to the festival newsletter.

He also owns his own manufacturing and distribution company, called Frankie Avalon Products Inc.

Messina broke into the country music scene with her song "Heads Carolina, Tails California."

"Jo Dee Messina is from Massachusetts, her father is of Sicilian descent. She got her love of country from her father, a Tammy Wynette fan, and her mother, an Eddie Arnold fan," according to the newsletter.

Entertainment for the Italian Heritage Festival is free to the public and is usually presented at the center stage on the Harrison County Courthouse plaza.

The festival has had many headline entertainers, including such acts as Kathy Mattea, a West Virginia native country music star, and Chuck Mangione, an internationally recognized jazz trumpeter.