About the Organization
The Watkins Glen Italian American Festival, Inc. is a 501c3 corporation operated by a volunteer staff of five officers and sixteen committee members, who donate their time, energy, and labor twelve months of the year to prepare for the annual event. In addition to the festival staff, approximately fifty volunteers help on the festival weekend. New volunteers are always welcome. Our goal is to provide a fun-filled family atmosphere, and has become a traditional gathering spot for thousands who return each year. We strive to provide something for everyone to enjoy.
The festival was founded by a small group of Italian Americans residing in Watkins Glen to honor the Feast of the Assumption, which occurs each August. To celebrate, a procession of men carried the Virgin Mary on their shoulders through the streets of the village, ending in Lafayette Park. Over the years, the celebration grew and the location had to be changed to Clute Park. It is now a two event that attracts thousands of visitors.
Proceeds from the festival are provided to local charities such as:
The American Red Cross Disaster Relief, Boy Scouts of America, Burdett Fire Department, Catholic Charities First Step Program, Concerts in the Park, Crystal Valley Mennonite Church, Elizabeth Amisano Cancer Fund, Montour Falls Fire Department, New York State Wine Grape Growers (in Memory of Monty Stamp), Office for the Aging/RSVP, Seneca Santa, Schuyler County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Schuyler County Little League, Schuyler Headstart, Schuyler Hospital's Health Foundation, Schuyler County Humane Society, Schuyler Outreach, Schuyler County Strong Kids/Safe Kids, Labor of Love, Andrew "AJ" Sperr Memorial Scholarship Fund, Watkins Glen Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Watkins Glen Police Benevolent Association, Spirit of Schuyler, and many others.
In addition to supporting local charities, funds for scholarships for graduating seniors in all Schuyler County School Districts (Watkins Glen Central, Odessa-Montour Central, and Bradford) are provided annually.