COTTREL: Clark County saw return of festivals this year, but volunteers still scarce

Dale Grimm and April Lowry confer with Marshall Gorby as they work to put up the Brat and Beer Hanger at Heritage of Flight. Photo by Mike Lowry.
Dale Grimm and April Lowry confer with Marshall Gorby as they work to put up the Brat and Beer Hanger at Heritage of Flight. Photo by Mike Lowry.

Since Labor Day, western Clark County has seen the return of three unique festivals that are near and dear to the hearts of the communities.

Each had large crowds as the neighborhoods and townships enthusiastically welcomed them back.

The New Carlisle Heritage of Flight, Oct. 1-3, had almost perfect weather except for a bit of liquid sunshine on Sunday that forced the Mile of Food event inside.

“It was a huge success,” said Marshall Gorby, one of the organizers. “We had great entertainment, good crowds, lots of fun events, fireworks.

“The cruise-in was outstanding, one of our best in many years. We had a new ride company from Enon that did an excellent job. We didn’t quite reach a mile of food. We accomplished about a quarter of a mile and we had lots of help from the Tecumseh ROTC and FFA.

“The Heritage of Flight committee did an outstanding job and we were honored to bring such a good event to New Carlisle.”

The Tecumseh AFJROTC was also mentioned by Jessi Devore, Apple Butter chairman.

“I could not have done it without the ROTC,” said Devore. At the end of the day when more stirrers were needed for the last of the 50 gallon copper kettles full of piping hot apple butter, cadets from the Tecumseh AFJROTC stepped up to finish off this year’s batch.

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For 42 years the Enon Community Historical Society, ECHS, has sponsored this event making it the oldest of the three festivals.

Summer-like weather smiled on the festival this year, and large numbers of visitors bought out all the food both days. Craft vendors saw similar success. All in all the community was very happy with the weekend.

Unfortunately a couple of the favorite all-volunteer nonprofit groups were not able to have their full booth because of not enough volunteers. Those food choices were missed.

A shortage of volunteers made her work extra hard this year, said Devore. Luckily members of ECHS did the canning, but assistance was needed in myriad other areas.

The 37th Fair at New Boston was on Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

Volunteers were extra important to the Fair at New Boston. Putting up the larger tents and tearing them down takes an actual crew of volunteers who know what they are doing. Younger volunteers are needed to learn the ropes and canvas, and work on their tan.

At the Fair at New Boston only a few of the entertainers and musicians are paid, which leaves the taverns, coffeehouse, and gift shop to be manned by costumed volunteers. Public officials and volunteers in regular clothing ran the ticket booth. The dancers, the uniformed soldiers, the militia, the cannon crew, and many of the Native Americans are all volunteers as well.

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GRCHA supplies the costumes to volunteers at the beverage tents, but this year there were outfits left in the closet. More volunteers were needed.

As evidenced by these large turnouts, we in western Clark County still love our festivals.

However, all the events are feeling the crunch of volunteers just as local restaurants are having difficulty finding servers.

Commitment to youth fall sports seems to be one of the big reasons that most organizers blame for the shortages of volunteers. But it is not the only reason.

As our veteran volunteers retire, the next generation needs to step up to take their place. This is why the oldest event, the Apple Butter Festival, is feeling the retirement of the founding volunteers first. The George Rogers Clark Heritage Association is feeling that loss also.

If our community members want to continue to have these three fantastic festivals, they will need to volunteer.

If you love these festivals, speak up now. Send messages to the events’ Facebook pages or personally reach out to those overworked volunteers who are struggling to keep the traditions going.

If community members are silent and do not volunteer, in the not too distant future our festival streets will be silent as well.