First of its kind sausage-eating contest held in Boardman

by: Stan Boney

The objective: how many links someone can eat in 15 minutes.

Dan Reash arrived at the mall Monday afternoon ready to take part.

“Prepared myself a little bit, kind of gorged over the weekend. Empty stomach today, so we’ll see. My goal is to hit double digits,” Reash said.

Reash works for iSynergy, a Canfield digital marketing firm which — along with five other companies — was part of the YOlympics, sponsored by HD Davis CPA’s. Events included disc golf, bocce, archery and cornhole.

Four of the five companies in the YOlympics were represented — all by men. The lone female was Mychael- Ann DeFrank.

“I came out of the spa and walked into this and got persuaded and said, ‘Let’s have some fun,’” DeFrank said.

Bill Roesti of Tri-County Tower took the early lead, eating eight links in the first nine minutes. There was no roll, no condiments, just the link. But when Roesti was offered more, he emphatically declined.

“No, no. No, no. No,” Roesti said.

Dan Reash decided to stand, and C.J. Hilbert of HD Davis looked to be making a late run, albeit with his head down in either total concentration or total agony. In the end, Dan Reash was the winner with eight and a half links. Bill Roesti’s eight was second, and C.J. Hilbert was third with seven and quarter.

“You know, I wished I could have trained my jaw a little bit more. I think that’s what held me back of getting that goal of double digits. My stomach feels all right, but about seven sausages in, my jaw was just fatigued and that’s what slowed me down a little bit,” Hilbert said.

“I hit six mileage and it just hit. Everything just sat at the bottom of the stomach. I was getting the meat sweats,” Hilbert said.

“Yeah, I don’t know if I’ll eat sausage again for a while,” DeFrank said.

For winning, Dan Reash won points for his team — iSynergy — in its quest to win the YOlympics. It’s all to benefit the Melina Michelle Edenfield Foundation, to help find a cure for pediatric brain tumors.


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the_business_journalCANFIELD, Ohio – What does the Canfield Fair mean to DiRusso’s Sausage Inc.?


by: Guy D’Astolfo

“It’s huge,” says Dante DiRusso, concessions and marketing manager for the Youngstown-based company. “It’s our biggest event. It accounts for a big portion of our sales throughout the summer.

DiRusso’s manufactures sausage, meatballs and a few other meat products at its plant for retail stores. But a big portion of its sales comes from running its own concession stands at fairs and other events. It also sells its products to other concessionaires.

Those who attend the Canfield Fair have a huge appetite for sausage sandwiches. The fair looms largest on the DiRusso’s calendar. The company has six or seven stands at the six-day event every year.

“We call it The Big Show,” DiRusso says. But it’s not the only one. The company sets up sausage stands at many festivals and events each year from April through October in northern Ohio. Their cancellations last year took a bite out DiRusso’s sales.

“It put a big dent in us,” DiRusso says.

The company was able to recoup some of the revenue from smaller projects, such as putting up stands in parking lots and fair food drive-thru events during the height of the pandemic.

DiRusso’s retail footprint is larger than its concession sales. Its frozen sausages and meatballs can be found in stores ranging from Buffalo and Pittsburgh to Columbus and into Indiana.

“We go pretty far for a smaller operation,” DiRusso says.

While its retail sales now overshadow concession sales, DiRusso’s got its start selling its product at fairs and they remain part of the company’s core.

“They are a blast,” DiRusso says. “We have fun but it’s a lot of hard work. We’ve been going through a lack of employees like everyone else. And it’s long hours and it’s hot. You are basically in a restaurant kitchen that is outdoors. But it’s a ton of fun.”

DiRusso himself says he will be manning one of the concession stands for the duration of the Canfield Fair.

“I have friends who are doctors and nurses who come and help every year because it’s so fun,” he says.

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Sausage Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers
Print Recipe
DiRusso's Sausage Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers are the perfect appetizer to put out at your next party. Perfect for game day noshing or entertaining at home. Kind of like a tamed down version of jalapeno poppers…but better since Sausage Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers are not spicy at all, so they’re perfect for kids or anyone that doesn’t eat spicy foods.
Servings Prep Time
3 People 30 Min
Cook Time
30 Min
Servings Prep Time
3 People 30 Min
Cook Time
30 Min
Sausage Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers
Print Recipe
DiRusso's Sausage Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers are the perfect appetizer to put out at your next party. Perfect for game day noshing or entertaining at home. Kind of like a tamed down version of jalapeno poppers…but better since Sausage Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers are not spicy at all, so they’re perfect for kids or anyone that doesn’t eat spicy foods.
Servings Prep Time
3 People 30 Min
Cook Time
30 Min
Servings Prep Time
3 People 30 Min
Cook Time
30 Min
  • 16 oz bag mini sweet peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 Links DiRusso's Real Italian Sausage Approx. 1 LB Ground Sausage. Can use Sweet, Medium Hot or Hot links if desired.
  • 8 ounces cream cheese Softened
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dry Parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup Shredded 3 Cheese Blend Parmesan, Romano and Asiago, or, just use Parmesan
Servings: People
  1. Thaw 4 DiRusso's Real Italian Sausage Links (approx 1 Lb) and remove the ground sausage from the Casing.
  2. Crumble and thoroughly cook the Ground Sausage in a pan or skillet until brown.
  3. Drain grease and set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400° F.
  5. Wash your sweet peppers and cut each one in half lengthwise, leaving stems intact.
  6. Remove seeds and membranes.
  7. Lay each pepper down to see which way to cut, ensuring they will lay flat on your baking sheet.
  8. Place peppers on and oiled baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil to coat the peppers.
  9. Turn all peppers cut sides up, salt lightly and bake for 6 to 8 minutes to soften.
  10. In a medium bowl mix together the cream cheese, garlic powder, parsley, salt, pepper and the shredded cheese.
  11. Stir sausage into the mixture and combine well.
  12. Spoon the sausage and cheese mixture into the pepper halves and set back onto baking sheet.
  13. Sprinkle with extra cheese to your taste and bake your sausage stuffed sweet peppers for 5 to 7 more minutes or until cheese is melted.
Recipe Notes

DiRusso's Real Italian Sausage Medium Hot, Sweet, or Hot links can be used depending on your personal preference.

If you like it hot, Jalapeño Peppers can be substituted for the Mini Sweet Peppers

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Vendors and visitors will spend more than $6 million during fair week — outside of the fair.

by: Amanda Smith

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Over 600 vendors will be set up for the Canfield Fair and the economic activity they will bring won’t be limited to Canfield.

The 173rd Canfield Fair starts next week, but vendors and fair employees are already hard at work getting everything ready to go.

Dante DiRusso knows what it takes to get ready for the fair.

“A lot of sweat, a lot of hard work and as many people as you can get involved,” he said.

Vendors started setting up Thursday and will continue to roll in for the next few days.

The DiRusso family will be operating seven sausage trailers.

“We have supplies stocked all throughout the fair in a couple properties that are close by,” DiRusso said. “We start working on getting things ready months ahead of time, planning out who’s going to be where, getting our schedules together.”

For the DiRussos, selling at the fair is a fine science. They study each trailer’s sales and figure out how much of each product is needed, and all of their supplies have to be bought in advance — most of them locally.

Vendors and visitors will spend more than $6 million during fair week outside of the fair, including for lodging, transportation, food and drink and shopping.

“It’s economic development for the whole community,” said George Roman, III, a member of the Canfield Fair Board. “It’s not just the fairgrounds, it’s all of Mahoning County and that includes Columbiana County, Trumbull County, Ashtabula County and western Pennsylvania.”

The vendors know they’ll make good money, too, but they’re going to have to work for it.

“All day, all night. This is definitely the highlight of our year,” DiRusso said.

The first day of the Canfield Fair is Wednesday.

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21 WFMJ Canfield Fair For many, the Canfield Fair is a time to get together with family and create new memories. One Youngstown family has made it their annual tradition over the last four decades to have their picture taken there.

by: Leslie Barrett

What started as one photo button has now turned into 46 — capturing treasured moments of their lives.

Every family has their Canfield Fair favorites.

For the Ray family, DiRusso’s Sausage is on the list but their annual family photo takes the cake.

“It’s a great tradition that we have. We look forward to it every year,” said Julieann Ray Cheng.

The family has had a photo button made at the fair for 46 years and they have only missed one year.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said the father, Mike Ray.

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WKBN 27 First News The Canfield Fair opens in one week and every vendor knows it’s a hot ticket for food sales.

by: Alexis Walters

Thursday was the day for vendors to pick up their paperwork and the line was long. Some lined up an hour ahead of time. There are 500 vendors this year.

Lemonade, funnel cakes, and stromboli are just a few of the offerings along with businesses from around the area. You can find it all at the Canfield Fair.

“I would say 90 percent have been here 10, 20, 30, even 50 years. Most of our attendees know where their favorite concessionaire is,” said Fair Director George Roman.

Some vendors, like DiRusso’s Sausage, have been coming for 53 years.

“My uncle started a concession business in the 60s – Auggie DiRusso and Canfield was one of the first spots he worked,” said Robert DiRusso.

Vendors do have to pay a fee to set up at the fair, but the business they will do during that one week keeps them coming back.

“Even if we get one job it pays for the event so it is definitely worth it.

It’s not just the sales during the week; it’s the marketing that lasts year round.

“I mean the Canfield Fair itself is pretty much our biggest marketing event of the year,” DiRusso said.

Roman said getting ready for the fair is like building a city of 600,000 people in six days and there are some challenges, but it all comes out fine in the end.

“You have your issues but where are you going to go to meet this many people in this short period of time,” Roman said.

The fair begins Wednesday, August 29 and runs through Labor Day (Sept. 3). Ticket information and show dates and times can be found at

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Big plans are underway for the Canfield Fair.

by: WKBN Staff

It was media day on Tuesday, and board members were anxious to announce what’s in store. 

The big news right now is a deal with a new amusement ride company. 

The Canfield Fair is bringing in Florida-based Reithhoffer Shows.

Board President Dave Dickey said everyone will be surprised when they come to the fair this year. 

“Nobody’s seen these rides in Ohio. We are very excited about them. They are Cedar Point-quality rides, so it’s going to be very exciting,” Dickey said.

For 30 years, the fair has gotten rides from the Bates family, who retired after last year.

Also on tap this year are the shows you’d expect, like the demolition derby, tractor pull and exhibits. 

And of course, Toby Keith is the headliner in the grandstand. Already 6,000 tickets have been sold for the show. 

For more information and a schedule of events, go to

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Youngstown-Warren Chamber Watch this installment of Take 5 with the Regional Chamber, featuring DiRusso’s Sausage, Inc.

After more than 50 years in the Valley, DiRusso’s has established a large following, especially with its mobile concession business at the Canfield Fair. Owner Robert DiRusso discusses his start in the business and how DiRusso’s is preparing for this large event. We also catch up with several people at the Greater Youngstown Italian Festival to find out what they look forward to most during fair season.