Dedicated volunteers bring Dew Days to life
Event takes months of planning
A dedicated team of volunteers work year-round to make summer’s kickoff festival, Farmington Dew Days, a celebration to remember.
For event coordinator Darla Donnelly, fond memories of the event’s bed races and parades are in part what drove her to get involved in organizing Dew Days about three years ago.
“I’ve grown up and live here,” Donnelly said. “I have a huge passion for Farmington. I don’t want to lose Dew Days and the community feeling.”
Jeff Thelen, owner of Thelen Cabinets, was one of the Dew Days volunteers who urged Donnelly to take a leadership role in organizing the area’s popular community festival.
“She’s the go-to person if you want to get something done,” Thelen said. “I think that’s what she was born for.”
Donnelly and a team of about 20 committee heads lead the all-volunteer effort to keep Dew Day events and traditions on track.
Dallas Hodgkins and Krystel McCann organize the arts and crafters, Amy Pellicci is in charge of the bed races, Bruce Matzdorff is rolling forward with the car cruise and Julie McKnight, is following in her step-father Jim Bell’s footsteps to line up the June 16 Grande Parade.
Bell founded Dew Days over 30 years ago, said Thelen, Dew Days current treasurer.
Parade grand marshal this year will be Castle Rock Board of Supervisors chair and longtime Dew Days supporter Russ Zellmer.
Farmington City Council Member Christy Jo Fogarty and Dori Seegar are co-chairs of the June 13 Miss Farmington Pageant, Dew Days traditional event opener, set for 7 p.m. at Boeckman Middle School this year.
Under their leadership, Miss Farmington Pageant participants are getting more involved in community service projects, and have already helped a military family, volunteered at the food shelf and worked at Feed My Starving Children.
Fogarty and Seegar are also organizing fundraisers for a professional float to be built.
“We decided early last year that we needed it because it is very difficult to do 20-plus parades per year when we have to borrow convertibles,” Seegar said.
The float trailer will be big enough to accommodate nine ambassadors, Seegar said. It is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
They hope to raise the money with fundraisers and selling advertising on the float.
Instead of signs, they are planning to have replicas of the businesses made and place them on the float. Businesses interested in advertising are invited to contact Seegar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, Farmington royalty made about 70 appearances at events across the state.
“The most common question the girls are asked is ‘Where is Farmington?’” Seegar said. “The girls encourage them to visit Farmington and know how to tell them where it is.”
For the first time, Dew Days will host a softball tournament, and Darla Donnelly’s son, Chad Donnelly, is working to register teams, line up fields and hire umpires.
Dave Sletten, owner of Kings Pork Chops, is again managing the food vendors.
He is charged with signing about 20 vendors who sell a variety of foods and planning their locations so they are peppered throughout the downtown Dew Days celebration areas.
In addition to duties as the overall coordinator, Darla Donnelly is also running the Flavors of Farmington, a signature food and beverage tasting event held June 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Rambling River Park.
Thelen emphasized there are hundreds of volunteers who work hard to make sure Dew Days events are fun and celebrate the Farmington community.
He said Dew Days is an important tradition to continue.
“It’s been going on 30-plus years,” he said, noting there are people who attended as children and now plan their summer vacations around the event so they can bring their children or grandchildren to Dew Days.
“It shows that a small-town community can do things, and it’s not just the big boys,” Thelen said. “You don’t have to be a Minneapolis Aquatennial to have an event that makes you feel part of the community.”
Laura Adelmann is at email@example.com or facebook.com/sunthisweek.