Archive for Thursday, October 15, 2009

Letters to the Editor

October 15, 2009

To the editor:

Ad Astra Alpacas wishes to thank the Baldwin City Signal for the great stories and photos about National Alpaca Farm Days and our alpacas that appeared recently.

We have just finished the second National Alpaca Farm Day weekend Sept. 26-27 and it was a great success. We had many people come visit the alpacas and we hope they enjoyed themselves as much as we enjoyed having them.

Thank you again for the great coverage for National Alpaca Farm Days.

Claudia and Bob Hey

Ad Astra Alpacas

To the editor:

I want to start by thanking everyone who visits our meetings. While our standard response to anyone selling a direct-marketed item (such as Pampered Chef, or Silpada or Avon) is, “Sorry, we're a hand-crafted show,” we as a committee didn't feel it was appropriate to simply stop there. This year, while we were sold out, we did have several conversations and lengthy e-mails regarding how we could help direct-marketed businesses in Baldwin City. How we, as a committee and festival, could “think outside of the box” and make sure that this festival does what we all claim it does — helps Baldwin City. As a result several great ideas were generated and we agreed on actions that could be taken next year. It was simply too late for this year to manage all that is already in place.You see, we have many responsibilities.

We are responsible to our visitors. We do not allow nonhandcrafted goods. That doesn't mean that we have the ability to detect them as they enter the city limits. We do, as clearly Deania has done, visit the booths to look for items outside of the approved selections. We look for manufactured items and when we find them, we ask the vendors to leave or to pack up their items. But there are a lot of vendors. And while we take the entire year to view applications and pictures and Web sites of these hand-crafted goods, trying to visit all 300+ booths in the matter of a few hours while running a festival is a bit daunting. And yes, there are hand-crafted goods out there. They exist. And the hard-working vendors who make them appreciate what we do to jury and judge.

This brings us to our next group we're responsible to — our vendors. While we hold them all to the same measuring stick, it would be unfair and deceitful to tell them we're having a hand-crafted, juried festival and then to knowingly allow direct-marketing companies with manufactured goods to sell right next to them. It's astounding the amount of hours these craftsmen can put into a single item that takes seconds, and therefore pennies, to create on a machine. It's not fair to hold some to one standard and allow others who are not required to comply. And while the downtown businesses are not held to the hand-crafted directive we do not allow them to bring in items to sell at the festival that they don't offer year round. Yes, we do apply our rules to the downtown businesses. Businesses downtown are, in most cases, very cooperative because we do bring in thousands of visitors and potential sales to them. I'd like to believe that all the businesses downtown find the festival committee to be reasonable with realistic demands.

We are responsible, ultimately, to the nonprofits and the community that we support. This festival is something we take seriously for what it can do for all involved. When you consider the checks we will write of donation after donation to all the nonprofits, the Greek houses, the religious organizations that depend on us, we must respect our guidelines. Because, to take those lightly would be to take lightly our responsibility to hold this festival for their benefit. And that is not our goal.

Our goal? To help our community through providing a two-day festival celebrating our town, our people, our vendors while enjoying the beauty of the season. It's simple, but it takes a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of volunteers. And it certainly can't be done by making a few demands and then walking away angry when it doesn't go as expected. We intend to be here next year and the year after and the year after that. And every year, in November, we do the same thing — we ask ourselves what we did wrong, what can we do better and what do we need to change. You see, it's a process. A long one. Much like life, we don't get it perfect — we just keep trying and we evolve as we go. While some might consider this an aberration or change of the guards, most call it growth. The comments online might have been perceived as being supportive, but it's clear that if some had their way, nothing would change and direct-marketing businesses would never even be a blip on our radar.

Our responsibilities make most requests challenging. Many cannot be discussed and resolved at a single meeting. But, most can be addressed with open communication, involvement and patience. And, above all, understanding. We hope that all enjoy the festival. We look forward to seeing any and all at our November meeting held the first Thursday of the month. Our meetings are always open, to which Deania can attest. We look forward to any input, even though we can't always say yes to every request and we appreciate all your support

Annie France

Baldwin Community Maple Leaf Festival Planning Committee Chair

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