Good times help build a better community
Summer will set its seasonal trip to the south metro area by what’s happening in Burnsville this year.
The city is opening the summer festival season with I Love Burnsville Week (which continues today and tomorrow) and close it with the Burnsville Fire Muster the weekend after Labor Day.
I love this time of year not only because of the splendid weather, but also because it’s when I see people from all walks of life pull together to organize events so those in their communities can gather and celebrate a common search for a good time.
Summer festivals are about so much more than rock ’n’ roll music, beer tents and parades.
It is a time for individuals and businesses to connect with the larger community and for service clubs to raise funds to support their year-round missions.
Many individuals take this opportunity to volunteer on a festival’s organizing committee, plan an event or participate in one of the many activities.
No matter who you are or who you work for, you’ve got to love the chance to reach out.
Several years ago when I was working in Northfield, I went to visit my barber not long before the town’s annual Defeat of Jesse James Days.
During our conversation, I said to him: “You must be looking forward to JJ Days this year.”
He gave a Scrooge-like response and said he closed his shop and left town for the week that the festival’s thousands of people poured into the street right outside his main street shop door.
He said he didn’t stay open because no one ever came into his shop during the event, parking was impossible, blah, blah, bah humbug.
I dropped the topic at the time, but I’ve heard similar complaints from business owners in towns when festival time rolls around.
What I’ve observed is that the business owners who turn into summer festival Scrooges don’t know how to embrace the concept.
The only thing my Northfield barber did to promote himself to the hordes of people who invaded the town was illuminate the barber shop pole outside his front door.
With the carnival bank raid re-enactments right down the road, it’s no wonder no one paid attention to him.
What he could have done, though, is moved his shop out into the street, offered discounted haircuts or handed out business cards or coupons to the many people who might not have known about the business and might come back at another time for a cut.
He could have sponsored an event, organized one himself or partnered with some of his downtown business neighbors to promote shopping there.
The options for businesses like his are endless, and I’ve never encountered a community festival organizer who didn’t want more business participation.
There’s another kind of community festival Scrooge that I don’t understand. It’s the people who stay at home during such events in their hometown.
Do they not realize how much a community festival can benefit service organizations in their town?
As a volunteer member of Rosemount Leprechaun Days, I know that the event is more than just a good time. It’s the catalyst for many service clubs and nonprofits to generate revenue for the rest of the activities they undertake during the year.
The Rosemount American Legion, the seniors, the hockey association, churches and many more organize food booths or conduct other activities in an effort to fundraise.
I can’t think of a better way for residents to give back to their community than by attending one of the events and having their money eventually turn into a veterans support program, a college scholarship or a youth mission trip.
I encourage people to seek out the offerings of these service clubs and nonprofits during these summer festivals and businesses to find ways they can help or even do something to boost their own profile in the community.