Festival great testament to volunteer efforts

As a newspaper journalist, even in a small community like Sweet Home, it’s always a tricky business trying to maintain some distance between covering news and making it. Ethical journalists do not want to be the news.

It’s much easier to do that in a larger community, where there is more anonymity. In Sweet Home, my own kids are on athletic teams and involved in different activities at school that the newspaper has always covered and continued to do so.

As publisher of a small newspaper, I have to address the business side of things and that means I get more involved in community efforts to promote ourselves more than I might if I were merely a reporter for the local daily.

It has been a little more difficult to find that line lately with my daughter’s decision to participate in this year’s Sportsman’s Holiday Court. I found myself sitting in the high school auditorium Thursday evening in unusual circumstances. Normally, I’d be holding a camera and a notebook, taking in the scene from afar, jotting down notes for a report on the event. This time, though, I was dressed up in a suit and tie, waiting to walk my daughter across the stage – not really something I ever imagined I’d be doing, at least not prior to her wedding.

Though I’m used to being in the center of the action, I’m not used to being THE center of attention.

So that started off an interesting weekend. Fortunately, I have a reliable reporter who often can be handed the responsibility of covering activities my family is involved in, with orders to do nothing more or nothing less than he would in covering anyone else. With Sean Morgan in action on Thursday, once I got used to the fact that I was going ot be in the spotlight, it actually turned out to be an enjoyable experience.

If you missed it, Chips ’n’ Splinters was well worth the $5 ticket. Even though it, as was most of this year’s Sportsman’s Holiday, was organized by a skeleton crew of volunteers, they made some nice improvements over last year’s fine effort to revive the variety show.

One was to make this year’s a competition rather than just a show. There were a few wrinkles, but considering that emcees Dave and Jane Strom got pressed into service at the last minute and had to wing it a few times, the show was interesting and, for the most part, went pretty smoothly.

The talent did not leave us bored. We have some very capable performers in our community. The sound system didn’t cooperate for everybody but we made it through.

I’m sure some of those wrinkles will be ironed out next year, particularly if some people who have expertise and interest in producing a quality show step up to help.

That’s the key word here – help. Sweet Home is not what it was back in the glory days, when Sportsman’s Holiday included, at various times, hydroplane racing on the lake, flower shows, trout derbies, teen dances on the tennis courts, softball tournaments, gun shows, a half marathon, raquetball tournaments, horse shows, draft horse pulling contests, etc.

Times have changed and a lot of people who helped organize those events are probably having to commute to work in the post-Spotted Owl era.

But people who have a vision for what can happen are welcome to step up at any time.

One casualty of the lack of people power this year was the street fair, which would have lined Long Street after the Grand Parade and would have featured performers at various stations along the street, who would be judged by passers-by, with the one getting the most votes by the people the winner. I thought that was a great idea to keep people downtown for a while and spice things up. The reason it didn’t happen was there wasn’t enough people power to organize it.

The Sportsman’s Holiday Mile didn’t happen for the same reason, though those of us who have been involved in that one in past years are planning to make sure it comes back next year.

It’s a tribute to the faithful that we had a parade that was clearly enjoyed by many. Though our Chamber of Commerce has had difficulties the last few months, dedicated volunteers and board members did what it took to pull it together.

The volunteer firefighters also deserve our thanks for a great show. We should also be grateful to those who helped them raise the cash to pay for it.

People got involved and made these things happen. Got some good ideas? Get involved next year and make Sportsman’s Holiday even better.