Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dean Martin Festival in Steubenville, OH (2017)


It's summer time and I've traveled to another to pop culture destination while on vacation. You may remember some of my earlier destinations: Rosemary Clooney House in Augusta, KY;  The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA; It's a Wonderful Life Museum in Seneca Falls, NY; The Waltons-Hamner Homestead in Schuyler, VA; The Lucille Ball museums in Jamestown, NY; and A Christmas Story House Museum in Cleveland, OH. I love traveling and sharing my adventures. What pop culture destinations have you visited?

Last weekend I journeyed to Steubenville, OH, the hometown of crooner Dean Martin. Two weeks ago, it was (what would have been) Martin's 100th birthday. So his hometown's celebration, the annual Dean Martin Festival, was planned to be bigger and better than ever. Most of the special events were scheduled for Saturday, June 17th but I was only able to make the trip on Friday, June 16th. I knew I would be missing out on most of the fun--but I decided to go anyway, to take in and enjoy what Martin's hometown has to offer.


Spotted this marker from the freeway and was able to find it again after exiting. (Click on image to enlarge).

Steubenville is a Rust Belt city in the Midwest. Like so many others, its peak in population (and industry) was many decades ago but the city and its people move forward to redefine themselves. One of the more fascinating aspects of visiting Dean Martin's hometown is discovering the vibrant and rich history of the city at the time Dino Crocetti lived there. I love history so visiting the local Historical Museum was a must.



The historical museum's collection on Martin includes photos and memorabilia of his music, television, and film career.

The Jefferson County Historical Association Museum is a frequent stop for Dean Martin fans. There's an entire room in the historical home-turned-museum dedicated to Martin's lengthy career. Steubenville residents are especially proud of Martin's acknowledgement of his hometown--there are many newspaper clippings and photos of his return visits.


Who could forget Martin in the car rally movies Cannonball Run and Cannonball Run 2?

Getting a photo of the entire room at the historical museum was too difficult but I found one piece of memorabilia to pose with!

The historical museum is a typical small-town museum but I appreciated its attention to detail and they way it captured the city's rich history. I also learned here that actor Robert Urich is also from the area--he's from Toronto, OH which is right up the road from Steubenville.


Although the Dean Martin Festival website didn't recommend a stop at Dean Martin's Steubenville home, we decided to look up the address on-line. Now we know why. Here's the field bearing the address.



The Dean Martin mural is on the wall of a local grocery store.

Steubenville is also known as The City of Murals. Wonderfully detailed, painted murals line many of the downtown buildings. Of course, there's a Dean Martin one. His mural includes a central image of Dean singing as he descends carpeted stairs. This is surrounded by four sepia-toned tableaus.

Top right quadrant: Dean and Jerry Lewis.
Bottom right: Dean and his musical director from TV's The Dean Martin Show.
Top left: Dean and his Rat Pack buddies, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra.

Bottom left: Dean and Jerry riding in a car during a hometown parade.

The mural is quite a tourist attraction! Everyone at the grocery store was used to seeing people like me stopping for photos.

The Dean Martin Festival also recommended eating at Dean's favorite restaurant in Steubenville: Naples Spaghetti House. On Friday evening, the old-school eatery was already filled with locals and people from out of town for the festival.



Maybe I'll get another chance to eat here next year :)




Again, I missed most of the special events planned for the festival but that's okay. They had a parade through downtown, a marathon street dance, many concerts, contests--even a 5k race! Dean's daughter Deana even came to Steubenville for the celebration. Maybe I need to come back next year.




It turned out to be a nice day trip for myself and my friend. We listened to several Dean Martin albums on the drive down--including a Christmas one! And, I got to share with my friend my passion for the Christmas episodes of The Dean Martin Show and the numerous '70s Christmas specials too. Remember I wrote about the 1968 Christmas episode here.


from the 1968 Dean Martin Christmas show.


Have you ever visited a pop culture destination? What are you plans for this summer?


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com






6 comments:

  1. Man do I wish was able to hit the Dino-Fest! My pal went & sent many pics & vids. He also met Deana. Maybe next year!

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    1. I'm definitely looking into going next year too--I'd like to experience more of the festivities with other fans. Maybe I'll see you there!

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  2. My mom was a HUGE Dean Martin fan. His albums were a mainstay in our home when I was a kid, and his variety show was never missed by my parents. Though it came on at 10 pm and I was usually in bed, I could hear it through the wall, and smiled to hear my folks laughing at the jokes, or when my dad would sing along with Dean.
    Bittersweet nostalgia prevails...

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    1. Absolutely! I admire the fans who spend their time organizing an annual event like this to bring people like us together. Thanks for commenting :)

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