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Volunteers needed to continue Montross Fall Festival tradition

Council may cancel 55-year-old event due to lack of participation
During October’s Town Council meeting, it was discussed the Town of Montross could lose the yearly Fall Festival due to lack of volunteers.  Fifty-five years of celebrating the first Saturday on October could be a thing of the past unless community participation drastically increases.

There will be a ‘Call to the Community’ meeting on either the second or third week in February and this will show Town Council members if there is an interest within the community to help keep this tradition alive. The date of that meeting will be announced at Tuesday night’s Council meeting, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m., after press deadlines.
Members of Town Council explained that participation and the lack of people needed to help with the festival is where the problem is. The town government has shouldered the responsibility of the festival since 1994 with the assistance of volunteers. Town Manager Brenda Reamy said the town was “faced with the same situation five years ago,” but the citizens of the community stepped up to give help where it was needed.  The loss of the Fall Festival for future generations and businesses that look forward to the revenues could be substantial.
One volunteer is needed to head up each individual project. For example, the trash removal service then takes 10 to 12 people to help in just that area alone.  Town Council is always looking for people behind the scenes in all events.  The baby contest takes a total of 12 volunteers.  There are 25 specific jobs that make the festival such a success. Currently there is a standing committee of 16 volunteers, not nearly enough. Also needed is a team of volunteers that can clean up and take down booths, PA Systems, and more after the festival is over.
Ten volunteers are needed who can take one area of the festival and manage it from start to finish.  They are short six key people, and discovered they were lost after doing one year of service.
During the ‘Call to the Community’ meeting, there will be a sign up sheet at that meeting for anyone interested in heading up one of the many committees or those expressing a desire to help out in the many other areas.
“During February’s Town Council meeting, we will know if there is or is not going to be a continuation of the fall festivals,” Reamy said. “If we get enough people, we can start the festival meetings in March and hit the ground running.”
Running last year’s festival was extremely difficult because there were not enough people involved and because so much happened at the last minute. They did the best they could with what they had.  Some activities were cut last year because the lack of help was so great. The 2010 Grand Marshall, Les Sissons, did a lot of work himself on Friday late into the night, early Saturday and still made the parade lineup by noon. There was an overall sad feeling was that he did not get to enjoy what should have been his day like previous grand marshals do.
The various categories that were lost this year included: Best decorated business, best decorated booth, best decorated store front, best vendor. It takes 3 to 4 people each to judge those categories.  Almost cut out was the antique farm equipment judging, but at the last minute Sonny Carrie volunteered.  The event lends itself to having more things that have gone on in the past and have just been dropped through the years because they haven’t had volunteers.
The Revitalization Project that is being looked at calls for events through out the year that would draw people to Montross for the sheer joy of coming to see them.
“If we can’t continue offering the Fall Festival, how do we hope to attract the visitors and businesses that would make this community a success?” Reamy said.
Town Council had to make the final decision that the town just couldn’t do it alone again because of lack of volunteers.
Town Council members are looking for people who are committed to staying with this for more than one year, so that the following year they’ll return to plan the next Fall Festival.

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