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Italian Festival promises fun Saturday in downtown Lincoln

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Jeff Greenberg electrifies The Lincoln News Messenger office with his exuberant personality during his usual weekday jaunts through downtown. Lately, though, the Lincoln resident and Friends of Lincoln Kids founder and president, has been missing from our office. That’s because Jeff has been frantically tying up loose ends, 24/7, with downtown Lincoln’s inaugural Italian Festival set for this Saturday. The inaugural festival is modeled after the annual downtown Ribs Festival that Jeff’s nonprofit organization started four years ago to raise money for Lincoln youth activities. Proceeds from Saturday’s event will go to Lincoln Library’s “Mother Goose on the Loose.” Up until this week, Jeff handled all details of putting together the new festival, from working with city officials to make sure proper street closure permits are in place to recruiting entertainers and vendors. Other Friends of Lincoln Kids volunteers step in this week to help with the festival’s actual day of operations, from marking the vendors’ spaces to making sure the singers’ microphones are working throughout the day. But until this week, Jeff has been the festival’s organizer/spokesman/gopher. Even as Jeff finally stopped by The News Messenger office last week to publicize the festival, his cell phone didn’t stop ringing. Trying to describe the festival to me, Jeff simultaneously took several calls from prospective vendors, who wanted to secure spots mere days before the event. As of now, more than 70 food, merchandise and crafts vendors will sell their products Saturday. Jeff credits several community members for helping make Saturday’s festival a financially-feasible reality. That’s despite his initial concerns about a new festival in town being a wild card in today’s poor economy. His worrying subsided when owners of two wineries, Mark and Therese Adams of Lincoln’s Rancho Roble Vineyard, and Rod Moniz of Moniz Family Winery in Rocklin, agreed almost on the spot to donate their products. “As far as Mark and Therese Adams, they are two of the loveliest people in Lincoln and they play a big part in helping many nonprofits in Lincoln. All it took was one phone call asking them to help at this festival,” Jeff said. “Rod Moniz, the very first time I met him at a wine tasting at The Place! Gallery, his eyes lit up when I told him about the Italian Festival.” Rod said he gladly donates to 30 charity events a year, “I live in Rocklin. I support local charities,” Moniz said. As for Rancho Roble Vineyard owners, they wanted to help the Lincoln community. “There are two kinds of people, those who are Italian and those who would like to be. We fall into the latter category,” Mark Adams said. “Also, we wanted to give something back to Lincoln. The money raised with the Italian Festival will stay local here to the community. I thought it would be a good way to give back a little something to the community.” That’s exactly what Jeff wanted to hear. “I’m doing this to raise money for children’s events in Lincoln. I grew up in Boston and had availability of parks, pools, playgrounds, libraries, and even though times were tough for our family, the city provided it,” Jeff said. “Now in a time when cities are struggling with their finances, we’re trying to do our best for the kids in our city of Lincoln who cannot afford some of the programs being offered today.” Besides the two wineries mentioned above, the downtown Umpqua Bank, Tri Counties Bank, Sharon Worman of Coldwell Banker, Closet Doctor’s Derrick Holland, Wave Broadband, InkLynx, Recology Waste Zero, Lone Buffalo Vineyards, Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt, city of Lincoln andSam’s Club of Roseville are also helping fund the festival operations. “I’m not surprised they all came forward,” Jeff said. “All these people have been here for Friends of Lincoln Kids since our initial Rib Festival four years ago.” Carol Feineman can be reached at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com