As summer begins to draw to an end, it’s easy to look back and see the influence volunteers have on our local communities during festival season.
We see this firsthand in the newspaper business. It seems there are things to cover practically every week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
For some people, these festivals may seem like nothing more than a pleasant way to spend a few hours on a summer day.
However, none of them would be possible without the dedicated volunteers who organize, plan, and run them.
Successful celebrations don’t happen overnight.
The planning for some begins soon after the last one is over.
Organizers and volunteers review their last event and look for ways to make the next one even better.
They participate in numerous meetings and dedicate countless hours to planning, contacting bands and vendors, securing the necessary permits, promoting their event, and much more.
If a function appears to run smoothly and effortlessly, it is likely due to the tireless efforts of volunteers working behind the scenes.
These festivals provide tremendous value to the communities in which they take place.
Festivals bring people together.
Community events provide opportunities for people to spend time with friends and neighbors, and catch up on what’s been happening
I thought about this while I was walking around Winsted last weekend during the city’s summer festival.
I heard people greeting one another and sharing stories, and there was a lot of laughter.
The same kind of thing goes on throughout the year in communities across our area, and it is all made possible by volunteers who give up their time in order to give others a good time.
Festivals give communities an identity.
Although there are many things about community events that are common to many cities, each one has things that make it special to the community in which it takes place.
Festivals can reflect and reinforce the values and history that are important to each community.
Attendees can see or participate in turtle races, canoe races, duck races, fishing contests, treasure hunts, car shows, twine ball parades, chicken barbeques, sweet corn feeds, and more.
It’s easy to criticize the work of others, and many people do.
It must be incredibly discouraging for volunteers to hear people make negative comments about things they don’t like about an event, or about things they think could have been done better.
I suspect it’s often the case that the person complaining spent just a few hours attending the function, while the volunteers who made it possible invested dozens of hours and many weeks or even months planning it.
“Where,” the volunteers might be tempted to ask the critics, “were you when we were planning the event and doing the work to make it happen?”
We’re fortunate in this area to have so many dedicated volunteers working on community celebrations throughout the year, as well as in the various service organizations.
Some of these groups help local residents in need, or contribute to other community organizations, while others address specific areas, such as improving lakes or planting gardens to beautify their towns.
There are volunteers providing opportunities for young people through sports teams, Scout groups, or other activities.
Some volunteers work on specific things, such as Easter egg hunts, Halloween parties, or visits from Santa.
We’re happy to share the highlights of what all of these service organizations do in our newspapers.
These groups and individuals improve the quality of life in their cities, and they do it with more passion and efficiency than any government agency could.
Volunteers make things better for those around them, and they deserve appreciation, not criticism.