Calling all volunteers

Farm Festival desperate for help

OBSERVER File Photo The Fredonia Farm Festival cannot go on this year without more volunteers.

Many hands make light work, but too few hands make an almost impossible feat.

The annual Fredonia Farm Festival is in desperate need of volunteers to help pitch in with its planning stages. Thousands attend the staple event in downtown Fredonia each year, but many of those people probably don’t think of the immeasurable number of hours spent by those who put on the event — and now those vital volunteers are in dangerously short supply.

“It’s a huge, huge undertaking … and we have just a handful of people,” explained Evonne Hennebery, Farm Festival chairwoman. “It’s a huge job, all the logistics. It’s humongous, and for only maybe five or six people, it’s not (an easy task). And then we have to raise money so that we can pay all the musicians and stuff like that, and folks have to book all the musicians. It would help if we had more people.”

Hennebery is new to the top spot for the Farm Festival. She assumed the role at the last minute when the festival was in danger of being canceled.

Members of the Fredonia Grange No. 1 have been going back and forth on whether they can run the Farm Festival on their own, according to Grange President Melissa Thompson, who chaired the event for seven years and stepped down from the post in 2015. The festival came up for a vote March 22, and that’s when Hennebery stepped forward to prevent it from being canceled right then and there.

“We were definitely going to cancel it, and then I felt guilty and I said, ‘Well, I’ll do it. I’ll head it up,'” Hennebery said. “The volunteers, it’s up just to the Grange, unless someone else can come in and help us. Our Grange is very small (in terms of attendance).”

But having a chairperson is only the first step in a lengthy process.

At the Farm Festival Committee’s first meeting of the year, only a handful of people showed up, and out of those people, only a few were able or willing to chair the various subcommittees, Thompson noted in an email on Tuesday. At the latest meeting on Monday, the committee was still short a few chairpeople.

“We’re still looking for someone to chair for sponsorships, to get sponsors (and donors), and then we’re also still looking for someone to help with advertising, as another chair we’re looking for,” Hennebery stated. “We do have chairs for (the other subcommittees), but we need volunteers to help, like the car show, helping with the vendors, helping with the parade, helping with entertainment, activities, there’s a whole slew of things.”

Planning for the Farm Festival typically starts in January, Hennebery pointed out. It is now mid-April, and officials are still scrounging for help.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. at Kasia Coffee, 183 E. Main St., Suite 6. Anyone interested in helping with the festival is urged to either attend the meeting or call Hennebery at 640-6943 as soon as possible.

The 49th Farm Festival is slated for Aug. 25, 26 and 27 in Barker Common. As of now, the committee is still aiming to have a festival this year, but Hennebery made it clear: “We need help.”

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