Archive for Thursday, November 3, 2005

Seeking help with MLF Committee

November 3, 2005

It's been two weeks since the annual Maple Leaf Festival gala occurred, but work has already started on next year's version and there is some "proof" regarding this year's attendance.

Tonight at 7, the Maple Leaf Committee will be meeting at the Baldwin City Public Library, as it does on the first Thursday of every month, except December. The committee works on the festival year round and needs more people involved.

"The crux of the volunteers matter is that our festival is growing and our volunteer pool is shrinking," said Nancy, Crisp, Maple Leaf Committee chairman. "Add in the increasing focus on safety issues and insurance and we just don't have enough warm bodies that a festival of this size requires."

While that pertains to the festival in general, it also pertains to the committee in specific.

"We need some new blood in this group," said Diane Wagner, a committee veteran. "Somewhere along the way, the impression has been given that we are an exclusive group. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"We really, really need some people to step up and help," Wagner said. "That's especially for next year with the downtown (enhancement project) going on."

As for the attendance angle, Roger Boyd, who has led the trash pick-up work force from the Boy Scouts for years, can attest to a bigger job this year. That's a good indication that more people attended.

"We toss all the trash in a big dumpster, so we can only go by volume," said Boyd. "We completely filled the huge dumpster Saturday. Last year, it wasn't full by the end of the day. We also filled one and a quarter more dumpsters on Sunday

"Last year, we used 250 bags in the barrels and this year I used more than 300, probably 325," Boyd said. "We were able to sort out about 500 pounds of cardboard for recycling, but only four bags of aluminum -- we were just too busy moving it to pull the cans from the rest of it. Last year, I had 14 bags of aluminum to recycle."

The Boy Scout effort is tireless throughout the two-day event. But, no matter what they try, festival-goers have no designs on recycling.

"Over the years, we have tried a variety of collection devices to get people to put the cans in a separate receptacle, but they always end up with just as much trash as the other containers," he said. "People may be concerned about recycling, but for the most part, they don't pay attention."

But, the committee certainly pays attention to people such as Boyd and groups such as the Boy Scouts to make the festival happen.

"Roger Boyd and the Boy Scouts do a huge job and are the unsung heroes as far as I'm concerned," said Wagner. "I saw them fighting off bees like crazy this year. People don't think about what it takes to put a festival this size on."

There are many other groups and individuals that make a difference, too.

"The booth committee spends hours measuring every bit of sidewalk space, leaving room for doorways, fire hydrants, trees, etc.," she said. "Then they have to carefully number each space and try really hard not to screw up.

"The parade chairs spend many hours days before the festival marking float spots and making sure everyone is in order so the emcees are announcing the right group at the right time -- that doesn't always work either," Wagner said. Then there are hours spent putting up no parking signs, marking the parade route, etc. These are just a few things that happen in just the hours before the festival. Planning takes the whole year."

That's where the committee is at now heading into tonight's meeting.

"The November meeting is our 'how did it go? meeting,' so it's kind of interesting," said Crisp. "We also approve a lot of spending during the first part of the November meeting."

Crisp also pointed out that in the beginning of the festival, all civic groups and organizations had representatives on the committee. Over the years, that has waned and she'd like to see a return to that. Plus, the need for committee members in general is always there.

"As you know, any kind of change in the structure of an organization runs the risk of spoiling the whole thing," Crisp said. "The best thing that could happen is that the Baldwin City community comes forward to embrace this festival and we get the larger number of volunteers we have to have to make this happen in a safe, orderly and fun way."

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