Knowing Your Neighbors: Italian-American Club of Duluth

DULUTH, Minn. – Spirit Valley Days brings throngs of vendors to West Duluth, from all over the Northland.

Yet only one brings the whole family, and the family’s food.

“The sausage also is a family recipe for the sausage,” said club member Bob Sisto. “Made by, well it’s an old recipe made by my uncle. And now my uncle died and his son kind of takes over, his name is Gene Sisto.”

The Italian American Club of Duluth serves Italian sausage links and patties, pasta, and onions. All served with a smile, and a witty comment.

The club’s been coming to the festival for 12 years, and each year they’ve been a big hit.

“Just because it’s a good place to be,” said Sisto. “Kinda centrally located, y’know, in the Spirit Valley Days, and a lot of people come.”

Nearby sits another staple of West Duluth. The American Legion Post 71 has been located at the intersection of Grand Ave and 59th Ave West since the 1970s, but it’s been in West Duluth for many years prior. While here, it has also been the home of the Italian American Club.

In the basement of the Legion lies the deep history of the club. Commissioned by the Order of Sons of Italy in America in 1905, the club has expanded to be more inclusive.

“I guess we stand for not only Italian Americans,” said Sisto. “Anybody can join our club, you don’t have to be Italian.”

Back at Spirit Valley Days, the club members are either chatting, cleaning, or cooking. They give off an air of antique nostalgia, you can feel the experiences and stories they have. But the age of members is something they want to change.

“And one thing we would like to do is have more young people join, we’re having a hard time with that,” said Sisto. He went on to explain that young people seem to have other things to do, one of which seems to be videogames. His head hung low, neglected and sad.

To him, the club has a lot to offer to anyone. “To join, it’s a good thing to belong, and have friends, and fellowship is great. And you know you meet new friends. And I would say that’s one of the big reasons.”

A club of fellowship, which spreads that fellowship with open arms–and plenty of food–to others at Spirit Valley Days.

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