During Rhubarb Days, many a person stopped to congratulate me the Sumner Downtown Days 2nd Annual Rhubarb Days. The told me I'd made great strides since joining SDA as their executive director. While I appreciated the kind thoughts, wishes and compliments, I felt it important to share just what it takes to run an event of this calibur.
First, there are months of planing involved. There are weekly meetings to define the event and determine the kinds of activities (games, food booths, vendor booths, number of days for the event, music, prizes, logo and ad designs, banners, signs, designing printed materials for handouts, news releases, working with the media, sponsorships, permits required, meetings with the city, working with the Public Works Department, communicating with merchants and determining the number of people needed to run the event). Each of the above mentioned are then broken down into many other tasks which need attention in order for the entire event to come together.
Rhubarb Days is supported by 9 Board Members and the Executive Director. We rely on merchant cooperation and volunteers. Did you know in order to run an event like Rhubarb Days it takes between 60-90 volunteers? This year, we had just 25 hard working, dedicated volunteers who offered to work much longer shifts then we would have preferred. We were very short on volunteers and these incredible folks stepped up to the task. I might mention the extra special efforts of the two young Dumas brothers who simply stepped in where and when needed.
A small group of helpers joined Louann Spencer as she almost single-handedly moved 25 70lb tables, 8 80lb bails of hay, 35 chairs, 14 10x10 pop up tents, 100 rhubarb plants, boxes of needed items for the day's event, 50 cases of soda, bags of ice, childrens games, and so much more. This was all done the day before as things needed to be stored in the SDA office. It was a very tight fit but she managed to get it done. Mayor Enslow even dropped by our storage space and help with the loading of tables and chairs.
Dale Loseth worked earnestly to build several new games and improve the old, so they would be ready for the kids on Saturday. Along with a friend, they created a derby raceway for the Sunset Chevrolet sponsored Veggies Races and items needed to build the Fred Meyer sponsored Rhubarb Rockets. These items were in the building process for nearly three months.
Merchants had to take time to change their window displays to make room for the Aprons from the Ryan House Archives and again, Dale and Rita Loseth spent hours adding incredible educational information and displays to the Salvation Army building windows.
In all, the day before the event began at 7 AM and ended just around 8 PM with the marking of spaces on Kincaid and Main for the vendor booths arriving the next morning. The day of the event began at 5 AM. For the next five hours, a small handful of folks had to remove all the items stored in the SDA office to get everything set up. All those tables, chairs, games, etc. had to be placed throughout Heritage Park, Kincaid Ave and Main Street. Vendors had to be checked in and booths inspected. Wtih God's grace, we managed to get it all ready just as the parade ended. With that, the games began for the children.
Now, one might think our work was done. However, it was just beginning. There were volunteers to be checked in and their stations assigned. There were trash cans to be emptied on a regular basis, announcements to be made, volunteers to be relieved for breaks, and activities to be managed. For example, Suzanne with Simple Kitchens was the lead for the Bake Off. She had to check in the entries, manage the judging table and ensure the proper items were brought to the table to be judged. Then there was the clean up process as well as the preparation of the awards and award announcement.
Finally, at the end of the day and with our volunteers wiped out, we were left with a small handful of folks who stayed around to help with the clean up. By 5 PM most of them were gone; leaving Louann Spencer and me to finish the balance of the work which was the heavy lifting of tables, hay, etc. We parted ways at 7:00 PM - three hours after the event ended.
If we made the event seem efffortless, then we did our job. Our goal of ensuring our guests and visitors had a great time was met. Many who attended (we estimate between 3000 - 4000 people) enjoyed the fruits and benefit of all those involved before and after the event took place.
We thank all came and attended our 2nd Annual Rhubarb Days and look forward to a bigger and better event next year. Watch Patch.com for our Rhubarb Days "Thank You" announcement to our volunteers, merchants, sponsors and all those who were involved. Without you, Rhubarb Days would not have been the success it was. And, if you feel you can contribute time to your community, SDA is still seeking volunteers for other upcoming events for the last half of 2012. For more information, please contact Patty Pennel at firstname.lastname@example.org.