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Massena recreation chairman suggests wine festival for arena

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MASSENA - Massena Joint Recreation Commission Chairman David M. MacLennan says, based on what he saw at a wine festival in Clayton, he thinks staging a local event could help draw people to Massena.

The problem, he said, is getting Massena on the list of venues for such an event.

“I know it’s very difficult getting on the circuit. We’ve talked about it, but getting on the circuit is the big thing,” Mr. MacLennan said during Tuesday’s Massena Joint Recreation Commission meeting.

Mr. MacLennan said his experience in Clayton was that a wine festival was something everyone could enjoy.

“The majority of the people were not wine aficionados. It was just fantastic,” he said.

He has asked Recreation Superintendent Richard A. Boprey to investigate what it would take to stage a wine festival in Massena.

Mr. Boprey said that, because the Clayton festival is a chamber of commerce-affiliated event, he has already turned to Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michael J. Gleason to see if the Massena Chamber and Recreation Department could work jointly on the effort.

“I talked to Mike Gleason and asked if he wanted to do it jointly, to try to get in on that calendar of events. He’s going to look to see if the chambers can link that way,” he said.

Councilman John F. Macaulay said a wine tasting had been held last year at the Massena Elks Club, and it showed that an event like that could attract a crowd. It was sponsored by the Massena Rotary to raise money for the local food pantries.

“It was huge. There was a big crowd. Mike Violi was involved,” he said.

Mr. Violi is the owner of Lot 57, a Massena wine store which will be closing its doors at the end of the month.

Board member John J. Horan said he supported the efforts to bring a wine festival to Massena. He said it would be more than just wine and could also include the sale of items such as stemware, cheese, crackers, napkins and cork removers.

“I would support it. These are pretty interesting things to the general population,” he said.

Mr. Boprey said this weekend’s Massena Rod and Gun Club Sportsman’s Expo would include a wine booth, where people will be able to sample wine. That, he suggested, could be a gauge of how much interest they would have in a wine festival.

“It will be interesting to see what kind of attention he gets,” he said.

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