Published in the January 21, 2016 edition.


WAKEFIELD — As the Event Planning Committee begins thinking about 2016, members may consider doing something a little different this year.

The two big downtown events – Festival Italia in August and the Holiday Stroll in December – will still be the committee’s major focus. In past years, however, the Event Planning Committee (EPC) has also put on a “Shamrock Festival” in early March for St. Patrick’s Day.

This year, however, the committee may elect to do its first event of the year later in the spring in order to give committee members more time to plan.

“We’re not going to do anything in the early spring this year,” said EPC Chairman Paul DiNocco. “The committee elected to not try to rush into something after the Holiday Stroll as we have in the past just to get something done by March 17.”

In past years, the Shamrock Festival has been the smallest of the three events, usually taking the form of a jazz brunch or a “Jest Fest” where local officials and politicians would “roast” one another.

DiNocco explained that with the Holiday Stroll in early December, followed by the busy Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the committee wouldn’t even have a chance to meet until mid-January. There simply wasn’t enough time to put together another big event by March.

“We want to make sure that any event we do, we do well,” DiNocco said. “We didn’t want to have to rush to do something just for the sake of doing it.”

As an alternative, DiNocco said, the committee may move the Friday night dinner that has traditionally been part of the August Festival Italia event to May.

DiNocco said that based on feedback from some of the restaurant sponsors that have provided the food for the Festival Italia Dinner, changing the month and the day of the week for the dinner seemed to make sense. Friday night is one of the busiest nights for restaurants, DiNocco explained and doing the Festival Italia dinner on a Friday wasn’t easy on the sponsors.

DiNocco stresses that even if the dinner is moved to May, the sponsorship benefit to the participating restaurants would not change. They would still be entitled to a spot at the Festival Italia in August. But having the dinner separately and on a night other than Friday won’t affect the restaurants’ businesses as much as having the dinner on their busiest night of the week.

By doing the EPC dinner sometime in May, DiNocco said, it would mean that Blossoms at the Beebe in April would be the first big town-wide event of the year. While not an EPC sponsored event, a number of EPC members also volunteer on Blossoms.

DiNocco stressed that none of these changes is official yet. The full committee is meeting tonight and is expected to discuss and vote on the event schedule for this year.