Tag Archives: Festival Italiano

Mike Rea Explores A First Selectman Run

Growing up on Evergreen Avenue, Mike Rea attended almost-in-his-back yard Bedford Elementary School.

His alma mater now serves as Town Hall. And Rea is trying to figure out whether he wants to work there full time.

He’s done many things since graduating from Staples High School in 1970. Rea helped found Festival Italiano, was a Parks and Recreation Commission chair, headed the Bedford Middle School building project, spent 12 years on the RTM, and now serves as vice chair of the Board of Finance.

He’s formed a committee to explore a run for first selectman. If he enters the race, he’ll challenge incumbent and fellow Republican Jim Marpe.

“For years, people have asked me to run,” Rea says. “I owe it to myself to see if the interest is out there now.”

Mike Rea (left) after his first Board of Finance victory. On the right is current 2nd selectman Avi Kaner.

A Bronx native who came to Westport at age 4, Rea has long been active in town. Soon after his Staples graduation, he opened Mr. Sandwich — a popular lunchtime restaurant — on Bay Street.

He attended Norwalk Community College at night. He married Carla, spent a brief time in real estate, and for the past 34 years has worked for Gen Re. He’s currently vice president of corporate services and global real estate.

His first political activism came before he was a teenager — for the Democrats. “Thelma Ezzes and Ruth Soloway got me to sell tickets for a JFK memorial concert,” he recalls. “Thelma always said I slipped through Democratic fingers.”

He later joined the Young Republicans, and became state national committeeman. He chaired the Republican Town Committee, and was a 2-time John McCain delegate at national conventions.

Mike Rea at the 1978 Republican state convention. In the background is longtime political leader Ed Capasse.

When Rea’s sons Michael and Alex were young, an earthquake devastated Italy. Rea was part of a Westport group that raised $250,000 to help, then brought 21 youngsters and their mayor from a small town to Westport.

The Sons of Italy rose from that group. They sponsored the Italian Festival, a summertime Saugatuck staple for over 25 years.

Mike Rea (left) with the Sons of Italy group, at an early Festival Italiano.

When his boys played sports, Rea got involved in a project to build more athletic fields. First Selectman Doug Wood appointed him to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Wood’s successor Joe Arcudi named Rea chair.

Under his direction, Parks and Rec helped develop Wakeman Park, renovated Ned Dimes Marina and brought a skating rink to Longshore.

Gene Cederbaum — a Democratic Board of Education member — recruited Rea to head up the Bedford Middle School building project. Rea and his group — including “fantastic volunteers” like Russ Blair, Howard Lathrop and Joe Renzulli — “brought new construction techniques and accounting principles, and combined them with state and local educational specs and budgets,” to produce a handsome school on a former Nike missile base.

Rea is proud that another Democrat — Wally Meyer — called him “Mr. On Time and Under Budget.”

In his 6 terms on the RTM, Rea chaired the Finance and Environmental Committees, and served on the Ethics Committee. “I really enjoyed the give-and-take from ‘the citizens’ podium,'” he says.

Mike and Carla Rea (2nd and 3rd from right), with their children and granddaughter.

He left the RTM to run for Board of Finance. Rea was elected twice, in 2011 and 2015, when he was the top Republican vote-getter in town.

So why might he challenge a fellow party member for the top spot?

“Why not?” he replies. “I wouldn’t run against Jim. I’d be running for Westport, and myself.”

His exploratory committee will examine whether issues like the condition of the beach, and finance and planning, are areas he could address.

“I’m a business guy, a facilitator, a project manager,” Rea says. “That’s my wheelhouse. It’s not a question of bad management now. It’s a question of, could I do better? When you commit large sums of expenditures to education, parks facilities and public works, you have to make sure you’re doing it right.”

Rea calls Marpe “a very capable, nice, down-to-earth guy. I really like him. He’s not doing the job wrong. I just think with my years in public service, and my skill set that augments the first selectman’s job, I might do better.”

Rea also says he’s friendly with Jonathan Steinberg, the Democratic state representative who is exploring his own run for first selectman.

Rea concludes, “I like people. I love Westport. I think I’d be good for the town. This is just the first step on a journey.”

That journey started decades ago at Bedford Elementary School on Myrtle Avenue. It may wind its way back there, in November.

(Tomorrow: Jim Marpe talks about his campaign for re-election.)

Searching For St. Anthony

It’s one thing to lose a fountain.

It’s another thing entirely to lose a saint.

St. Anthony — the symbol of Saugatuck and, ironically, the patron saint of finding things or lost people — is gone.

For decades St. Anthony’s Hall was the social heart of that strong Italian neighborhood. Located at 37 Franklin Street — the once-vibrant one-way road connecting Charles Street with Saugatuck Avenue, now overshadowed by I-95 high above — the meeting place of the St. Anthony’s Society was the go-to place for weddings, anniversaries, and all kinds of other gatherings.

The former St. Anthony Hall on Franklin Street. (Photos/Google Maps)

The former St. Anthony Hall on Franklin Street. (Photos/Google Maps)

And for decades, a statue of St. Anthony watched over Saugatuck, from an honored alcove above the front door.

St. Anthony, in the alcove.

St. Anthony, in the alcove.

The photos above are from last August.

But now, St. Anthony is gone.

Robert Mitchell noticed the missing saint the other day. He leads walking tours of Saugatuck for the Westport Historical Society (the next one is Saturday, April 18).

He was surprised to see it gone. So were many other Westporters.

Thanks to Cathy Romano, who works at Assumption Church — more on that later — I learned that Chris Anderson bought the former St. Anthony’s Hall building last July, for $1.2 million.

Chris has lived in Westport for 14 years. His wife is Italian. As he began renovating 37 Franklin Street for his business — In-Store Experience, a design and advertising firm — he planned to save the statue.

37 Franklin Street, after renovations.

37 Franklin Street, after renovations.

But when the contractor went to remove it, Chris said, “it disintegrated.” It was too old, and had just sat there — in the alcove — since God knows when.

The contractor knew what the statue meant to Chris. He gave him a replica of it.

And Chris knows what the statue — and all of St. Anthony’s Hall — meant to Saugatuck.

He plans to display a plaque honoring the site in his lobby. He’d like photos too. But he doesn’t know how to get them.

That’s where “06880” comes in. If you’ve got pictures — or any other memorabilia — from St. Anthony’s Hall, or the annual Feast, email canderson@instoreexperience.com.

I can’t speak for Chris. But it can’t hurt to send anything from the entire area, right?

This photo of Franklin Street might be good for the new lobby. It shows the original Arrow restaurant. The restaurant got its name from the "arrow" shape of the Saugatuck Avenue/Franklin Street intersection.

This photo of the original Arrow Restaurant might work in the new lobby. The name came from the “arrow” shape of the Franklin Street/Saugatuck Avenue intersection.

PS: About Assumption.

One of the great traditions of St. Anthony’s Hall was an annual feast. Before it died out in the 1950s — around the time the highway came through — there were games, food, and a parade during which a statue of St. Anthony was carried down the street.*

You can still see that statue. It was donated to Assumption Church. Today it sits proudly inside the church.

(Hat tip: Loretta Hallock)

*In 1984, the Feast of St. Anthony was resurrected as Festival Italiano. It thrived for 27 years, until 2011.

St. Anthony's statue, just inside the back entrance of Assumption Church.

St. Anthony’s statue, just inside the back entrance of Assumption Church.

Steve And Toni Rubin Say Goodbye (Y’All)

35 years ago, Steve Rubin’s medical and surgical supply company was considering a move from Long Island to Norwalk.

Steve and his wife Toni lived in Douglaston, Queens. They began talking about moving to “the country.” Their friends thought they were crazy. They sort of did, too.

“We both grew up in New York City,” Steve says. “For us, Westport was the edge of the earth, before it cracks off.”

But fresh air, and a produce stand on North Avenue, lured them in. The Rubins rented the big white Rippe house, next to 7 acres of corn farmed by a guy named Buster.

“We truly felt like we lived on a farm,” Steve recalls. “We fell in love with this place.”

Toni and Steve Rubin.

Toni and Steve Rubin.

The 1st folks they met were Betsy Wacker — from Welcome Wagon — and her husband Watts. George Underhill, from the town tax office, soon became a good friend too. All 3 introduced the Rubins to many aspects of their new home town.

Steve’s company never moved to Norwalk. He spent 5 years commuting to New York.

Then, 23 years ago — at age 47 — he suffered a heart attack.

The Rubins’ Westport friends responded immediately. Meals poured in. People drove him to the doctor. They did whatever they could for the couple.

Steve Rubin

Steve Rubin

The heart attack led Steve to retire from his stressful work. He got a job with Westport’s Parks & Rec Department, manning the Compo gate.

He organized workers for the Compo Beach playground construction project. He joined the Y’s Men. Toni created the Respect program, for children with special needs.

“It snowballed,” Steve says. “It was like we’d lived here 100 years. This town has a magic effect. It makes people feel like natives.”

The Rubins’ activities grew. Steve spent many years as the voice of Festival Italiano. He did not stop until the last raffle ticket was sold. “I made a whole bunch of new friends there too,” he says.

Perhaps his most important contribution began the day he complained to Gordon Joseloff about “some safety issue.” Joseloff — at the time the moderator of the Representative Town Meeting — urged him to run for the legislative body.

Earlier this month — almost 20 years later — Rubin resigned from the RTM. In an emotional farewell, he announced that he and Toni are moving to Charleston, South Carolina.

Steve and Toni Rubin's t-shirts say it all. He adds, "I could not have done any of this without my wife and best friend."

Steve and Toni Rubin’s t-shirts say it all. He adds, “I could not have done any of this without my wife and best friend.”

The impending move is “bittersweet,” Steve admits. After a couple of years of consideration, the lure of warmer winters and a lower cost of living was too good to pass up.

“We don’t want to wait until, god forbid, we’re too old to do it,” Steve says.

The Rubins don’t know a soul in Charleston. But, he notes, “We didn’t know anyone when we moved here. We did it before, and we’ll do it again.”

Steve adds, “we’ll love this town forever. There are so many great people here. It seems like Westport is filled with mensches.”

Steve Rubin in the Memorial Day parade.

Steve Rubin in the Memorial Day parade.

The Rubins leave knowing they’ve made a major mark on their adopted home town. Their name appears on the quilt at Town Hall, the library River of Names and brickwalk, the Wall of Honor at the Staples football field and the Longshore pool wall mosaic.

They’ll miss the many activities they’ve participated in, and enriched: the Memorial Day parade. First Night. PAL fireworks. Downtown trick-or-treating.

They’ll miss Compo, Longshore and Saugatuck. “We’ll even miss the Post Road and Main Street,” Steve laughs.

They’ll miss Westport a lot. But not as much as we will miss Steve and Toni Rubin.

Remembering Buck Iannacone

Alphonse “Buck” Iannacone — the 2012 Memorial Day parade grand marshal, a 61-year PAL volunteer, and a Bronze Star and Purple Heart winner for his military service during the Battle of the Bulge — died Friday. He was 88.

In his 6 decades with PAL, he did just about everything. He was a coach, an organizer, a board member, a field maintenance guy, a fundraiser, and a good friend to thousands of young athletes.

A former US Postal Service worker and local union president, he was also a member of the Saugatuck Volunteer Fire Department, Laurel Athletic Club and a dedicated volunteer with both Special Olympics and Star.

Buck Iannacone (left), the 2012 Memorial Day parade grand marshal this year, with his son and granddaughter. One of Buck's 4 great-grandchild had been born 10 days earlier.

Buck Iannacone (left), the 2012 Memorial Day parade grand marshal that year, with his son and granddaughter. One of Buck’s 4 great-grandchildren had been born 10 days earlier.

Buck received plenty of honors, including a National PAL Award in 2008. He was cited by the Sportsmen of Westport, Norwalk Old Timers and the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance. Three years before leading the Memorial Day parade, he served as grand marshal of Festival Italiano.

But of all the kudos Buck Iannacone got, one was extra special. In 2001 — dressed in caps and gowns, and marching across stage — he and 5 other World War II veterans from Norwalk received high school diplomas.

Like the others, Buck had left school to join the military. The shrapnel he took in the Battle of the Bulge put him in a British hospital for 8 months.

Buck Iannacone served his country well. And — for the last 61 years — he did the same for Westport.

(Services will be held on Wednesday, July 30, at 9:30 a.m. at Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Road East, and 10 a.m. at Assumption Church, 98 Riverside Avenue. Internment, with full military honors, follows at Assumption Cemetery, Kings Highway North. Friends may visit the family on Tuesday, July 29, from 4-8 p.m. at the Harding Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Buck Iannacone’s name to the Westport PAL Scholarship Fund, c/o Sam Arciola, 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880.)

Buck Iannacone and Roberta Troy at the 2009 Italian Festival. He served as grand marshal that year.

Buck Iannacone and Roberta Troy at the 2009 Italian Festival. He served as grand marshal that year.




Another Park. Another Plan?

For many years, Luciano Park was a thriving neighborhood playground.

For 2 years during college, in fact, my summer job was supervising the small Saugatuck spot, between the railroad station and parking lot. Another counselor and I kept an eye on kids, organized a few games, and set up bus trips to amusement parks and Yankee Stadium.

Luciano Park, looking from Railroad Place and Charles Street toward the parking lot. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Luciano Park, looking from Railroad Place and Charles Street toward the parking lot. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Later, when Parks and Rec stopped funding the positions — and the area changed — Luciano Park was known mainly as the site of the annual Festival Italiano.

These days, it’s largely forgotten. And almost completely unused.

Home plate remains, but the rest of the softball diamond is gone. View is toward Railroad Place. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Home plate remains, but the rest of the softball diamond is gone. View is toward Railroad Place. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The reasons are varied. Saugatuck is no longer a place of small homes and large families.

The few kids with free time in the summer don’t play baseball in parks. They don’t swing on swings.

No one does, anywhere in Westport — except for the very creative Compo playground, which has sand, water and food nearby.

The seldom-used playground equipment in Luciano Park. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Seldom-used playground equipment in Luciano Park. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

I was reminded of all this after receiving an email and photos from alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti. Walking through Luciano Park at 12:30 last Friday afternoon, without a soul in sight, he thought: “If there is a park in Westport that needs a master plan, this is it!”

He added:

As Westport thinks about its future, let’s give this park some thought. It need not only be for kids. Hundreds, maybe more, quite literally ‘park’ nearby every day.

Could this be a quiet place to sit before or after work? Why not add a fitness station as an alternative to the gym?

Good questions, all. And as Railroad Place prepares for the next stage of Saugatuck’s redevelopment, and residents throughout town ponder both Compo Beach and downtown improvements, why not add this tiny, valuable parcel into the planning mix?

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

It’s A Small World After All

Since September, Luca Caputo has been an Italian exchange student at Staples. He’s enjoyed his year, adapting to Westport and discovering America.

Luca Caputo

Last week, he was invited for coffee at the home of an Italian family here. As he was leaving, they asked him to stay a few minutes longer. A friend named Carla was coming.

Carla Rea is a longtime Westporter. But she spent the first 20 years of her life in Italy, so naturally she asked Luca where he was from.

“Near Naples” was not good enough for her. Neither was “Near Salerno.”

Carla is an inquisitive sort. What town? she asked again.

“Potenza,” Luca answered.

Well, Carla wondered, had he ever heard of Balvano?

Though a very small village, it’s only 10 minutes from Potenza. Luca said, “sure!” In fact, his mother was born there. And his grandparents spent 50 years in Balvano.

Mamma mia!

Carla Rea

Carla knew Balvano well. Over 30 years ago, an earthquake devastated the region. More than 3,000 people were killed. Carla and her husband Mike were moved by the stories of destruction — particularly the 39 children who died when a church collapsed on them.

The Reas and other Westporters quickly collected blankets and clothing. Wanting to do more, they enlisted the help of fellow Westporter Francesca Lodge, the Italian-born wife of former Connecticut governor and Ambassador to Spain John Davis Lodge.

That group formed the Sons of Italy to continue the relief effort. The organization raised over $250,000 for the reconstruction of Balvano.

Inspired even further, Carla invited all the children of the village to come to America. Soon, Westport and Norwalk embraced 19 youngsters, and the mayor. They were feted here, then enjoyed New York, Washington and Disney World.

But that was not the end of the Sons of Italy. In 1984, the group sponsored a “Festival Italiano” in Saugatuck. It was an instant success. For 27 years — until 2010 — the Italian Fest was a beloved summertime institution. Tens of thousands of men, women and children traveled from as far as Brooklyn for food, rides and music.

The Balvano church, right after the earthquake...

Luca knew much of the earthquake story. He recalls the date — November 23, 1980 — instantly, though it was a decade and a half before he was born. His mother was 15 years old at the time. She survived, but a cousin died. Luca also knew that Americans had helped rebuild Balvano.

But until last week — chatting with Carla Rea — Luca had no idea that much of the aid came from the town that, for the last 8 months, he’s called home.

Carla called Luca’s mother in Italy. The women spoke in Italian. It was an astonishing conversation.

...and Balvano today.

The 19 children who came to Westport were all Luca’s mother’s friends. She had not made the trip, though; she was busy moving with her parents into a new home.

It took 30 years, but finally a member of her family was in Westport too.

A few days later, Luca visited the Reas’ home. Carla showed him scrapbooks she’s kept.

Then she pointed to a cross on her wall. A gift from the grateful citizens of Balvano, it had been saved from the church that collapsed in the quake — the same church that inspired Carla to action in 1980, and where Luca’s cousin died.

“America is huge,” Luca says. “But somehow, in all of America I came to Westport. And I met Carla.

“Really, I think, the world is very, very small.”

Saturday’s Slice Of Saugatuck

Festival Italiano is gone.

Long live Slice of Saugatuck.

For nearly 3 decades, the Italian Fest celebrated “old Saugatuck” — the neighborhood cleaved by the construction of I-95.

Now, as Saugatuck morphs again — with the addition of new apartments, stores and offices — it welcomes a 1st-annual happening.

This Saturday (September 17, 12-3 p.m.), 3 dozen restaurants, shops and galleries will open their doors, and spill onto the streets.

It’s called a “free wine and food tasting, and retail experience,” but there’s also live music, kayaking, fly fishing, tae kwan do, hair braiding, tours of the firehouse and more.

Slice of Saugatuck takes place on and in Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Saugatuck Avenue — the area surrounding the former Festival Italiano site of Luciano Park and the railroad parking lot.

St. Anthony’s Hall, the Arrow restaurant, Esposito’s gas station — they’re long gone from Saugatuck.  This summer, the Italian Fest that was created in their memory disappeared too.

But Saugatuck is as vibrant as ever.  This Saturday, a new tradition begins.

(Parking is free.  For a list of merchants, activities and more, click here.)

The firehouse is an important part of Saugatuck -- and it will be featured at Saturday's "Slice" event.

Celebrating Italian Fest, 2011

This summer, Festival Italiano is just a cherished memory.

A lack of volunteers and sponsors doomed the 27-year-old institution — itself a revival of the long-running St. Anthony’s Feast.

But Westporters are intrepid.  And though the carnival rides, fried dough and Johnny Maestro are gone, we can have our own Italian Fest this summer.

Or at least, we can celebrate the reason we had a festival in the first place:  Saugatuck.

Rather than riding roller coasters, eating unhealthy food and listening to bands without most of their original members, let’s honor the place that meant so much to so many, for so long.

The Arrow Restaurant was always packed.

You can drive to Saugatuck, and ride along its still-familiar streets.  You can walk around, and — though the smells and sounds of the 1930s, ’50s, even the ’70s are gone — still see the remnants of what was once Westport’s most vibrant neighborhood.

Or just sit back, close your eyes, and think back to the days of the Arrow restaurant, Lou Santella’s barber shop, and small grocery stores and other shops everywhere.

Remember families like Capasse, Anastasia, Luciano, Cribari, Giunta, Caruso, D’Aiuto, Dorta, Romano, DeMattio, Arciola, DeMace, D’Amico, Manere, Capuano, Arcudi, Melillo, Rubino, Caputo, Tiberio, Bottone, Nazzaro, Saviano, Reitano, Valiante, Tedesco, Gilbertie and Nistico.

Construction of I-95 sliced the Saugatuck community in half.

Think of the grape arbors, plum trees and beautiful gardens of years gone by.  Some survived construction of I-95, when it sliced through the heart of this tight-knit community.  Many did not.

Recall Dr. Gillette Circle.  It’s a strange name — but it memorializes the family doctor who served Saugatuck so well.

Think about the old  Sons of Italy hall on Riverside Avenue.  Next to it — once upon a time — was a cable grip factory.  Nearby were farms, a shirt factory, homes that housed multiple generations and houses with multiple families.

Not far away is the train station.  The 2nd set of tracks was built by Italian immigrants.  It’s an important part of the community that’s still there.

Carole and Robert DeMaria in Saugatuck (now Luciano) Park. In the background is Esposito's Gulf station (soon to be Mario Batali's Tarry Lodge). On the corner is Arcudi's grocery story (now the 21 Charles Street office building.) (Photo courtesy of Terry Santella Anzalone)

So is Luciano Park.  Both the park, and the station parking lot, were apt sites for the Italian Festival when it thrived.

The thousands of fair-goers may not have realized they were standing on a patch of history — that’s tough to do when you’re playing whack-a-mole, scarfing down pizza frites and dancing to do-wop — but it’s the way the world turns.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to think back — particularly this 2nd weekend in July, the traditional date for Festival Italiano — to what it was, and why it was there.

So spend a few minutes remembering the Italian Fest, and its the entire Saugatuck community.

You can travel back there in real life, or go there in your mind’s eye.

Either way, it’s a wonderful journey.

When The Festival Tents Fold

The news — there will be no Italian Festival in 2011 — was dramatic, but not unsurprising.  Rumors of its demise had swirled for years.

What was surprising was this:  Few people seemed to care.

My “06880” breaking-news post elicited 10 comments.  A story several days later about a guy selling socks at Mitchells drew more than twice that number.

For more than a quarter century, Festival Italiano was a Westport tradition.  It drew folks from as far as Brooklyn.  Johnny Maestro was a regular performer.  Thousands of Westporters went there, ate there, rode rides there, played games there, made out there, grew up there.

Hundreds more volunteered.

Until recently.

The Italian Festival folded its tents, finally, not because no one liked it — everyone did — but because too few people liked to work there.

Volunteers did everything.  They planned entertainment, haggled with carney companies, negotiated for use of the parking lots, organized police and medical services, arranged for port-a-potties, created parades, put out press releases, sold raffle tickets, picked up trash, and did a thousand other tasks fair-goers never thought about as they drank beer and munched fried dough.

The best part for the volunteers — besides watching the smiling faces of everyone from little kids enjoying their first Festival to oldsters remembering the original St. Anthony’s Feast — was handing checks to charities.  Hundreds of local organizations received millions of dollars, thanks to the hard work — for so long — of a relatively few people.

Perhaps the Sons of Italy — the core group of volunteers — did not toot their own horn loudly enough.  I’m sure very few Festival attendees knew this was a non-profit event — or where the money went.

If they had known, would things have changed?  Would the Festival have drawn more volunteers — enough to bring it back for a 28th summer?

Probably not.

Westport is a volunteer-driven town.  From the library and PAL, from the Green Village Initiative to the PTA, we don’t lack for men and women willing to roll up their sleeves, go to work, and do good.

But Festival Italiano demanded a singular commitment.  Entertaining up to 100,000 people for 4 days every summer — trying to keep costs manageable, making money for organizations that need it, while constantly worrying about the weather — is a daunting task.

We owe the Sons of Italy, and all their volunteers, enormous thanks for all they did, for all those years.

But maybe that’s why there was such silence following the announcement that the last pizza frite has been scarfed, the last Brooklyn Bridge notes sung.

Maybe all of us feel guilty we didn’t do our part for this great Westport institution we always took for granted.

Breaking News — No Italian Fest In 2011

The home page of Festival Italiano provides this distressing news:

It is with deep sadness that I must announce to you that there will be no Westport Festival Italiano in 2011.  We did have a very successful Festival in 2010.  Unfortunately, virtually all the income was paid out in expenses.

Our reason for existence is to provide scholarships and support for local charities and there is little left for that.  Although it would be fine if we could keep the Festival going just for the entertainment it provides for Westport and the surrounding communities that is just no longer possible.

Volunteering is virtually non-existent and sponsorships are dwindling so more and more of the set up has to be contracted and paid for.  No one from Westport Festival Italiano, Inc. receives any payments from the Festival, so there is no way we can cut back expenses without destroying the character of the Festival, and that we will not do.

Several avenues have been investigated to keep the Festival going within those guidelines, but they have not succeeded.  With the economy sluggish and the constant threat of a rain washout we have no choice but to terminate Festival Italiano

Festival Italiano has had 27 good years. The weather has mostly cooperated.  Our Patrons have been great, as have the vendors and entertainment.  We have provided over two and a half million dollars to charitable causes and many, many hours of enjoyment to the people of the Westport area.  We are proud of our accomplishments.

Best Wishes from all of us at Westport Festival Italiano, Inc.

Arrividerci, Festival Italiano.  Grazie mille.

(Posted 8:50 a.m.)