LIFT Must Engage Younger Generation to Survive

For nearly 50 years, Clinton has celebrated its Italian roots.

“I hate to see it disappear because I think it’s good for Clinton and you want to keep Clinton on the map,” said Clinton resident, Rosann Chambers.

But this year’s festival left many residents wondering about its future. There are no exact attendance numbers from 2014’s festival but LIFT president, Matt Zanandrea, says he’s confident it’s still alive and well.

“I did notice going through the books yesterday that 60 percent of them is the surrounding areas, the communities, 40 percent is from out of state … New York City, I seen a lot of Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio,” Zanandrea said.

Chambers grew up in Clinton, has an Italian heritage and was The Queen of Grapes in 1969.

“It was so much fun, it was new and it was different … stomping the grapes, meeting everybody, welcoming them to the festival,” Chambers said.

Chambers says the key to keeping the festival alive is getting the younger generation hooked into the celebration. This year the board plans to get elementary schools involved. Students will be learning the Polka dance.

“Hopefully if I get that back in those kids when I’m 80 years old, they’ll be willing to step up the plate and kick me off the board,” Zanandrea said.

LIFT also now has Facebook and Twitter accounts to engage younger Clintonians.