Charleston, W.Va. – Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says one of her fondest memories of her upbringing is selling pizza for her uncle Smitty Brunetti during the Italian Heritage Festival in Harrison County.
She was even a princess at the 1986 festival.
This year, she will return to uptown Clarksburg as the 2010 Italian American Woman of the Year.
This year’s festival runs September 3-5.
Tennant’s roots run deep in Clarksburg and in San Giovanni in Fiori where her Italian heritage originates. She even traveled to San Giovanni, Italy on her mother Rose Mary’s birthday several years ago to celebrate it with her and to celebrate the Feast of Saint John.
Her grandparents, Joe Brunetti and Catherine DeLuca were the first people married in St. James Catholic Church in North View and many of her family members still live in North View, Clarksburg, and Harrison County. She now continues these traditions with her daughter, Delaney.
Tennant is a member of the Christopher Columbus Lodge of the Sons of Italy in Charleston and has presented information about the Italian Internment Camps during World War II.
Governor Joe Manchin (2009), his uncle A. James (2003), and Rear Admiral Thomas Lopez (1989) have been honored in the past as the festival’s Outstanding West Virginia Italian American. The festival also bestows an Honorary Italian American Award, and past winners include Bishop Bernard Schmitt (1999), former WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong (1998), NFL Hall of Famer Sam Huff (1992), and astronaut Jon McBride (1988).
Secretary Tennant will also participate in Opening Ceremonies on Friday, the grand feature parade on Saturday and the outdoor Mass on Sunday.
Entertainment at this year’s Italian Heritage includes Justin Guarini from season one of “American Idol” on Friday, September 3. Sixties musical group Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels will perform on Sunday, September 5.
For more information on the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival, log on to the website at www.wvihf.com.