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Image of 1999 Italian Heritage Festival program cover
1999 Italian Heritage Festival program cover

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West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival
A Local Legacy

What is boccie? Boccie, or bocce (pronounced "bah-chee") is an Italian bowling game usually played outside. Boccie is played on a court, also called a campo, that is about 75 feet long by 8 feet wide, enclosed with raised sides. Players can play individually or on teams. Each player or team rolls four bocce balls (4 to 5 inches in diameter), toward a smaller ball, called the boccino, or pallino. The object is to roll the ball closer to the pallino than an opponent's ball. When all balls have been played, it is the end of the frame. A team is awarded one point for every ball that is closer to the pallino than the nearest opposing ball. A team may score up to four points per frame.

Boccie was popular with many of the thousands of Italian immigrants who came to America in the early 1900s. Coal mining companies recruited many Italians to work in the deep mines of West Virginia; others found work on railroads and farms. The West Virginia Heritage Festival was founded to preserve and present Italian cultural traditions for new generations. This festival is held in Clarksburg, West Virginia, on Labor Day weekend. The festival includes authentic Italian dancers, Italian religious observances, strolling minstrels, and, of course, a bocce tournament.

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