May 26 12:24 PM

It ain't so easy to put on a festival

August 13, 2008
I'd always suspected there was a great deal more to coordinating a community event than meets the eye.

After helping out with this year's Blueberry Festival, I now realize first-hand the challenges and frustrations organizers and volunteers face — before, during and even after the event.

With the 2008 festival still fresh in mind, I would like to acknowledge the Herculean efforts of the members of the Blueberry Festival Committee, each of whom gave their time and energy in hopes of putting together a community event that everyone would enjoy.

Co-chairpersons Walt Bargen and Julie Salsido carried much of the weight on their shoulders. They were ably assisted by Mary Martinez, Joi and Ian Kempf, the "Filer clan" (Dan, Loraine, Danny and MeLisa; Dennis Collison, Kim Jorgensen, Delores Heim, Sandy and Karl Iloncai, Sally Reinhardt, LuAnn Valdez, Yvonne Wilson, Beth Murawski and Brad Barrett.

Thanks to the Imlay City police department, DPW and fire department for logging extra hours to make sure everything was in place and to ensure the public safety.

Particular appreciation goes out to Rodney Sanderson-Smith, Doug and Sam of Zone Productions for providing the sound for our entertainers over the weekend. They demonstrated uncommon patience when others around them were losing theirs. And they handled some occasionally difficult moments with professional aplomb and genuine kindness.

Kudos also to Tom Schutz of Output Entertainment for coming through at the eleventh hour with extra equipment to accommodate the acts on our second stage.

It is worthy of note that the second stage, located on Third Street at the corner of Bancroft Street, was donated by the Eastern Michigan Fair.

All-in-all, the performances of our entertainers were first rate. From start to finish, everyone did a great job and nary a complaint was heard.

Special thanks to singer Katie Whitis-Brady and the Wayward Wind band for weathering the rain and lightning storm on Friday night. Stellar performances were also turned in by R&R Double Take and Justine Blazer, our Saturday night headliner.

Nor dare I forget the efforts of my mates from the Benjamin Lake Band, who came through with an inspired show. It's not easy going head-to-head with the beer tent.

One of the highlights for us was the outstanding introduction of the band given by Emily Lowe, this year's Little Miss Blueberry. The guys in the band were very impressed with 7-year-old Emily's intelligence, composure and joyful nature. She will represent Imlay City well during the next year.

Of course, not everything went according to plan at this year's festival. And despite our best efforts, there were the usual grumblings heard from those for whom things didn't go as well as expected.

There are no doubt improvements that need to be made. For example, solutions must be found about where to place the non-food vendors and crafters.

These and other matters will be discussed at length by the committee in the future.

For now, though, Blueberry Festival Committee members can use a full day to relax and regroup.

Please pass along your ideas, opinions and suggestions for next year's festival to any of the committee members.

Email Tom at

Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
05 - 26 - 19
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