CATHEDRAL CITY – Sammy’s Sixth Annual International Meatball Festival on Sunday attracted a potpourri of competitors from firefighter/paramedics, to car dealers, to politicians.

The aroma of meatballs also served as a magnet for hundreds of consumers who noshed on the goodies and tried to secure the secret recipes. Entrants’ creativity knew no bounds. It was a meatball lover’s paradise.

The event served as a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City.

Cathedral City firefighters/paramedics were dishing out what they called a “Fireball.” One taste was all it took to conclude it was aptly named. The delectable was a wonton filled with crab, shrimp and pork bathed in a secret sauce.

For Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Dietz, the Meatball Festival was a first.

“This is a great turnout,” Dietz said. “We’re really happy to be here. We are part of the community and it’s good to show our face.”

“We’re excited to be here. We are hoping to win, of course, so there is a little bit of a selfish reason, too,” he said with a smile.


Becki Sameroff Robinson

Becki Sameroff Robinson, who has been working with a team of 63 volunteers since March to register voters, knew she would have a captive audience at the Meatball Festival and was standing vigil hoping to register more. To date, the group has registered 215 voters ranging from age 18 to those in their 70s.

Her group has been registering residents at College of the Desert, VillageFest, Mizell Senior Center, Cathedral City Senior Center and every Tuesday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Mary Pickford Theater.

“Everybody’s vote matters,” Becki Sameroff Robinson said. “I’d rather see an election we (Democrats) lose with everyone voting than an election we win with only 20 to 30 percent of the people voting. I’m thrilled to death to be doing this.”

The most important thing to know and remember, she emphasized, is that anyone wanting to vote in the November election must register online by Oct. 22 or have a registration form postmarked by Oct. 22.

Mark and Rhonda Carnevale, owners of Nicolino’s Famous Italian Restaurant, entered the competition for the first time with a meatball taco. Mark Carnevale, a City Councilmember in Cathedral City, said the idea was his and all ingredients fresh and homemade.

He chose a Latino-style meatball with pork and beef, tomatillo sauce, and Pico de Gallo — all nestled in a warm flour tortilla.


Nicolino’s Famous Italian Restaurant serving meatball tacos..

“I enjoy participating in local events,” Carnevale said. “I really appreciate what the organizers have gone and want to help in any way I can. I just want to have fun. That’s all I care about.

Papa La Rue’s BBQ from Palm Desert was one of the competitors. They served up an Italian meatball with a rib rub, wrapped in bacon, smoked and drizzled in a secret sauce.

So, some secrets were revealed; others not so much.

Judges for the event were Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis, Councilmember Shelley Kaplan and Police Chief Travis Walker. Results were pending at publication time.




Image Sources

  • Nicolinlo’s: Cindy Uken
  • Meatball Festival: Cindy Uken