STEUBENVILLE - John Golia had always wanted to visit the Dean Martin Festival.
So at the age of 70, Golia's children bought him a plane ticket, and he flew to Pittsburgh and then made the short drive Thursday to the city where his singing idol was born and raised.
"I met Dean Martin once. It was back in 1974 at the Dinah Shore Golf Classic in Palm Springs. We had a nice conversation. And I have always loved his music," Golia related.
SINGING DEAN MARTIN — John Golia of Palm Springs, Calif., entertained the audience by singing the Dean Martin hit “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” during karaoke night at the Spot Bar. The Dean Martin Festival in Steubenville kicked off Thursday and will continue through Saturday at various locations in the city.
-- Dave Gossett
"I came into downtown Steubenville, and it reminded me of my hometown on Staten Island, N.Y. I felt like I had come home. I love this town. It feels right," laughed Golia.
And it felt right for Golia to be the first participant in the Dean Martin Festival karaoke event on the back deck of the Spot Bar.
"After a brief conversation with the DJ hosting the karaoke, Golia began to sing "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You."
No need for him to look back where the words rolled down two video screens. Golia knew this song by heart, and he quickly won the approval of the crowd.
"I met John this afternoon at the Greek Food Festival. He was sitting at a table by himself, and I walked over, introduced myself and we started talking," said city resident Joseph "Slugs" Smarrella.
"I took him to Dean Martin's old neighborhood in the South End. We stopped at the Steubenville Bakery where he met Louie Tripodi, and then I bought him a sandwich at Capri's. I tried to give him a real taste of Steubenville," Smarrella said.
"Like I said. I like this town. It's home," Golia said.
It was a beautiful evening in downtown Steubenville as the music from the Spot Bar karaoke mixed with music from the Grecian Food Festival one block away and the swing and blues concert from the Louis and Sandra Berkman Amphitheater from Third Street.
The four-day Grecian Food Festival will wrap up tonight with live music from the Greek Company and a 7 p.m. performance by the St. Nicholas Dancers of Pittsburgh.
The Dean Martin Hometown Celebration Day will offer tours of the Dean Martin Room at the Jefferson County Historical Museum on Franklin Avenue from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday.
A Mass is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Holy Name Cathedral on South Street, and from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. a memorabilia sale will take place at the Dean Martin mural at the Hollywood shopping plaza followed by a Rat Pack concert at 1:30 p.m. at Steubenville High School.
The Dean Martin Festival at the Spot Bar will feature entertainment starting at 7:30 p.m. today by Italian singer and accordionist Mirella Volpe, followed by Rich Treglia and Russ Loniello from Branson, Mo.
A Dino Singing Contest follows with Stevens and Dave Salara starring as Martin and Frank Sinatra to cap off the evening.
The tribute at the Spot Bar continues Saturday with a free show beginning at 1 p.m. featuring the Frank Gallo Italian Band and Dino's Hits and Sing-Along.
Loniello and the winner of the Dino Singing Contest will take the Spot Bar stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday followed by Tom Stevens, a Dean Martin impersonator, and the Rat Pack Show starring Buster Maxwell, Save Salara and Bob Morelli.
The evening will conclude with the Chris Denem Tribute Show to Neil Diamond.
Admission for the evening shows are $10, and all proceeds benefit the Dean Martin Music Scholarship Fund.
Local History Day is also set to start at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center.
"We will have a meet-the-authors event on Saturday. Regis Schilken of Pittsburgh who writes mystery and suspense novels; MJ Michael, the author of 'The Gentle Giant and the Beauty Queen'; and Roberta Young, who writes faith-based poetry and has published a book called 'God's Poima' are the three authors scheduled to be in the visitors center that day," said Judy Bratten, executive director of the fort.
"Local History Day is a chance to highlight the history of Steubenville and some of the famous people who have lived here," said Bratten.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)