RIMERSBURG – Organizers for Rimersburg’s annual summer festival, Cookie Daze, are making a last-ditch effort to find volunteers to help keep the event from being cancelled.
At their meeting last week, Rimersburg Area Chamber of Commerce members were apparently ready to call off the August festival; however, after a discussion, it was decided to wait one more month to see if the community will rally around the annual event.
“We just don’t have people to help us with Cookie Daze,” chamber secretary Sheila Johnson told the handful of members gathered at the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library last Thursday evening.
Not only is the chamber trying to fill its vacant president and vice president positions, Johnson said, but volunteer help for the festival dropped off considerably last year.
“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Johnson added.
Scott Campbell said that in his 35 years of being involved with the local chamber, he has seen the same thing happen over and over. Approximately every five years, he said, the festival is threatened by the lack of volunteers.
In the past, Campbell added, new people stepped up each time to carry on the tradition.
“The younger people are not involved in it like they used to be,” he noted.
Campbell said that if the festival is called off, the popular car cruise, which anchored Sunday’s festival lineup and brought hundreds of classic cars and thousands of people into town, would continue.
“We have it built too high to let it go,” he said of the car cruise, which he noted could be moved to the Rimersburg Fairgrounds if the festival is not held downtown.
Those in attendance said they didn’t want to see it get to that point, explaining that they have lots of ideas for the 35th edition of Cookie Daze.
Johnson said the chamber would like to do a “Down on the Farm” theme for this year’s event, which is scheduled for Aug. 11-12. Last year, the festival dropped its Friday lineup, consolidating the once three-day event into two days.
Ideas being talked about for this year include a tractor show, farm market, farm-themed kids games, a barnyard petting zoo, hay rides, country music performance, corn hole tournament, as well as the parade on Saturday evening and the car cruise on Sunday.
“Ideas aren’t the problem,” Johnson said. “It’s a lack of manpower, before, during and after the event.”
While volunteers would be encouraged to help plan for the events, Johnson said the biggest issue is getting people to show up to help set up the night before the festival, clean up after events on Saturday, and help take everything down and clean up on Sunday evening.
Members discussed reaching out to local church youth groups as well as the schools to see if anyone would be willing to help.
“Last year was a complete and total struggle,” Johnson said, noting that only about four people helped set up before the festival. “I know I sound like I’m griping, but we cannot physically do it by ourselves.”
Rather than call off the event, those at last week’s meeting decided to give it one more month to see who might step forward. Anyone wishing to help with Cookie Daze is asked to attend the chamber’s 7 p.m. meeting at the library on April 12.
Those who can’t attend can contact Johnson at (814) 229-9942 or chamber treasurer Leanne Stewart at (814) 319-4018.
The chamber is also encouraging local businesses and organizations, many of whom were chamber members in the past, to re-join the chamber. Membership levels are down this year, officials said. Sponsorships for the festival have also seen a decline in recent years, and funding is needed if the festival is to continue.
“We have to watch our money too,” Johnson said. “We’re at a crossroads.”
Johnson said she’s hoping people will also step up to lead the chamber as president and vice president.
Letters will be sent out to past and present chamber members to seek help with the festival and to alert them of the officer openings, as well as the change in the monthly meeting schedule to the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the library.