WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Summer is still going strong in the Valley as finishing touches are being put on another festival getting ready to launch.

The Warren Italian American Festival in Warren’s Courthouse Square is a tradition in the city and kicks off Thursday. The festival first started in 1985, and though it takes more than a year to plan, it still holds onto its traditions. The festival boasts more than 100 members who share their common pride of being Italian with the community.

“It’s just such a great atmosphere and just such a special place,” said Corey Hovance, president of the Warren Italian American Festival. “It’s in beautiful, Courthouse Square, with the flowers and the architecture. It just has that great, festive vibe.”

This year’s event will feature rides, several kinds of entertainment like RDNA, The Hern Brothers, traditional Italian music in the beer tents, and, of course, lots of Italian food. There’s even a meatball eating contest for women.

“Three years ago, we started a meatball eating contest that’s always gotten great feedback. So this year, we added a women’s meatball eating contest,” said Hovance. “Saturday at noon, we will be holding our first women’s ‘Meatball Mania’ Competition. They have 60 seconds to eat as many meatballs as they can.”

Bocce lovers will get their chance to watch as 24 teams compete at the Bocce Court from Thursday through Sunday. There will also be the Tiny King and Queen contest and the Miss Italian Pageant both Thursday and Saturday and then fireworks at 10:45 p.m. Saturday.

Plus, the donation at the door to get into the event goes a long way toward helping students, according to Hovance.

“There is no admission fee, but we ask for a $3 donation to get in,” said Hovance. “That money goes to our scholarships. The Italian festival offers eight $1,000 scholarships every year for all of our members and outside members to help through college and also to fund this wonderful event.”

The Warren Italian American Festival runs Thursday, August 10 through Sunday, August 13 from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. It’s located on North Park Avenue in Warren in Courthouse Square.

For more information, visit WarrenItalianFestival.com.