Mount ClemensJuly 13, 2012
Italian Festival returns with stop in Mount Clemens
By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer
MOUNT CLEMENS — After a one-year hiatus, the Italian American Cultural Society is bringing back its exceedingly popular ethnic festival, this time to Mount Clemens.
But whether the Clem will be the new permanent home of the three-day Italian Festival depends on how things go this upcoming weekend.
Joe Ventimiglia, chairman of the event, said Italian fun, Italian food and live entertainment will be abundant on Macomb Place July 20-22.
“It’s good to be back,” said Ventimiglia. “Mount Clemens is rolling out the red carpet for us.”
The Italian Festival, which is not just open to Italians, has been a Southeast Michigan tradition for more than 30 years.
Ventimiglia said the event, which is open to all nationalities and the entire family, was for a time held at Hart Plaza, but for a majority of its run was held at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights,
But the Macomb County-owned park closed in 2009, and the festival was left homeless. Fortunately, Macomb Community College on 12 Mile Road was available and had ample space to accommodate their needs.
“Then, in 2011, we were unable to do it so we postponed it for a time,” Ventimiglia said.
And now they’re back.
The Italian Festival will be open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. July 20, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 21, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 22. Events include a magic show, meet-and-greets with such children’s favorites Elmo and Spider-Man; there will be a meatball contest, a cannoli-eating contest, a cutest baby contest, live entertainment by local musicians, as well as Dean Martin’s daughter Deana Martin; and Sunday Mass. There will also be plenty of vendors on hand selling Italian products and food throughout the weekend.
Ventimiglia said the festivities will be held on Macomb Place, between Southbound Gratiot and Main Street.
“We’re looking forward to coming back,” said Ventimiglia. “This is one of the oldest and longest-running ethnic festivals around. It’s for the entire family, and a lot of people look forward to it. It’s a celebration of Italian heritage — our food, drink and good music.”
He said it’s still up in the air whether the Italian Festival will be become a tradition in Mount Clemens. “We’re very happy that we’re bringing it here,” he said. “If all goes well, it’s going to be a great party.”
For more information, call (586) 228-3030 or go to www.facebook.com/DowntownMountClemens.
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