Although it isn’t a local event, I was deeply saddened to read in the newspaper this morning that the Festival Italiano, which had been an annual summer event in Westport for nearly 30 years, has come to an end. We Fairfield County Italians looked forward to the games, the music, and most of all….the food.
The first festival was held in 1983 to celebrate Italian heritage, while raising funds for local charities. According to festival Director Roberta Troy, the funds raised have dwindled to the level where it was only enough to cover expenses.
According to the announcement posted on the festival website, “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.”
It’s sad to hear that the decline of voluntarism is a major contributor to the demise of traditional events like Festival Italiano. Unfortunately, it’s a growing trend. A recent fund raiser I was to attend was canceled due to decreasing attendance. Community groups are desperate for new volunteers, as their existing group is aging and moving on.
It may be too late for this year’s Festival Italiano, but we can still do something to help on a more local level. Help raise funds for the , volunteer at the , participate in Tidy Up Trumbull Day, get involved with your child’s school’s PTSA, just get involved. Or else, the services and activities we enjoy will meet the same fate as Festival Italiano.