Saturday, August 30, 2008
Little Italy Festival - Clinton, Indiana
It's happening right now in a small town in western Indiana:
a festival that began in 1966 by townsfolk looking to celebrate their heritage and breathe some life into the town's economy.
It all started about a hundred years ago when a bunch of Italian immigrants were moving west in search of coal mining jobs.
They settled in a little town about fifteen miles north of Terre Haute and stayed, destined to influence the town from that point on.
If you visit Clinton, you'll find that it's a lot like other typical small towns in the Midwest, except of course for the Italian flags, wine gardens and bocce courts. Bocce is reportedly part of the high school PE program.
If you open the phone book, you'll see names like Abriani, Pastore, and Zanandrea along with the classic names like Jones, Anderson and Smith.
And while these proud Italian families may have been removed from Italy for generations, they still stay in touch with their roots.
Interestingly, unlike most Italian immigrants, who haled from towns in the south of Italy, the folks who settled in Clinton were natives of northern Italy.
The first day of festivities features the largest Italian themed parade in the Midwest, which includes a Venice-built gondola carrying dignitaries of the event.
The festival lasts four days, and takes place over Labor Day weekend.
Some of the other events of the festival include a spaghetti eating contest, grape stomping, and bocce tournaments.
The most amazing thing about Clinton's Little Italy festival is it's draw:
The town population hovers around 5000,
The Festival draws 75,000 visitors each year.
Buona fortuna Clinton.