SHARPSVILLE  – With a quick whip of his wrist, Jacob Perry silently casts his fishing line into Shenango River Lake.

In less than a minute Perry, 16, pulls in a fighting bluegill. It’s his seventh catch of the day. When asked what made him such a successful fisherman, the Sharon resident said it’s a skill that comes from the inside.

“Patience, it takes patience,’’ he said of his fishing talent. “This isn’t something about rushing things.’’

Perry was among the 950 people who signed up to attend Friday’s 16th Annual Leslie Colucci-Sparano Memorial Summerfest. The free event is held at the Mahaney Recreation Area of Shenango River Lake.

Summerfest is a three-way partnership of the Leslie Colucci-Sparano Memorial Foundation, the Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

With the help of the commission, Mercer residents Marilyn and Frank Colucci created Summerfest as a tribute to their late daughter, who was killed in 2004 from a car accident and was married to Steven Sparano. At the time she worked for the commission and had 30 clients. She was 28 years old.

“This has been a very good therapy for us and others,’’ said Frank Colucci of Summerfest. 

But there is more to the event than just that, he added.

“We wanted to create an event that people are excited about and want to attend,’’ Colucci said.

Jim Melvin, the commission’s chief clinical director, said nearly all of the agency’s clients with intellectual disabilities attend Summerfest along with its other clients.

“This is a great way to remember Leslie,’’ Melvin said.

The event is held at Shenango River Lake largely because it was a place that Leslie loved to visit, Colucci said.

This is the fourth year Sandy Lake resident Brett Bernsdorff has attended the fair which he loves.  

“You get to meet a lot of people here,’’ Bernsdorff said.

Along with carnival games and live music by Leslie’s brother, David, boat rides are provided by the Corps and North Star Marina.

“I go boat riding because I really enjoy it,’’ said Sharon resident Ida Michel. 

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission handed out fishing poles and bait to attendees and waived the fishing license requirement.

Colucci said he hopes others take the lead role in putting on the event as he and his wife are getting older. Summerfest is all about helping and enjoying others.

“This is a happy place,’’ Colucci said.

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