CumberlandFest 2019 is a success

CumberlandFest 2019 is a success

Organizers promise even better for 30th anniversary

CUMBERLAND – Though the revamped and revived CumberlandFest saw some bumps and hiccups over Victory Day weekend, overall it was a great success, said organizers.

The three-day festival was helped by perfect weather throughout, said Executive Director Ernie Labbe, and appears to have made plenty of money to follow through on its purpose of contributing finances to local youth organizations.

“We think we had a good show,” he said. The new beer garden went very well, he said.

“People were coming in and specifically complimenting us on the organization of the park,” he said. “They liked the changes that we made.”

Based on the changes that were made this year, and the recognition that this festival needs to continue to evolve with the community, Labbe said he now expects the event to last long past when longstanding organizers are gone.

Though it all went off, Labbe said not everything went smoothly.

“Did we make mistakes? Yea. I personally made a bunch of mistakes,” he said. One disappointment, he said, was that he became personally overwhelmed with tasks rather than relying on team members to get things done. “Lesson learned.”

Labbe said organizers are excited to begin next month with planning next year’s 30th anniversary edition of CumberlandFest. That will be three months earlier than planning started for this year’s festival.

The most compliments came in for how the midway was laid out, said Labbe.

If there was a primary disappointment to mention, Labbe said it was the lack of community volunteerism again this year. There was a core group, he said, “but just not enough volunteers to be able to staff all the positions,” so people had to work more than what organizers wanted.

Having the Scouts camping on site and volunteering filled in a lot of the gaps, he said, but he would have preferred more of a balanced mix of youth organizations and community members taking pride in this town event.

One reason why the youth groups receiving proceeds from the festival didn’t volunteer as much as expected, Labbe learned just before the festival, was that some were expecting to be reached out to directly leading up to the festival. He expects to do more active solicitation next year. He also expects some previous volunteers who were waiting to see how the reshaped festival worked out to also be back next year.

Another source of complaints was in the bingo area. The machine broke, said Labbe, and the one the Boy Scouts brought in to replace it was only halfway working.

CumberlandFest took in approximately $90,000 in gross receipts from amusements, with a portion of that going to Rockwell Amusements, at least another $45,000 at the gate, which all stays with the festival, another $5,000 or so in food court and arts and craft vendor revenue, and more than $12,000 in sponsorships, so more than $150,000 total.

Gold sponsors J.H. Lynch and Eastland Electric again went way above and beyond in helping out, said Labbe. He also thanked Town Clerk Sandra Giovanelli, public safety departments, and the mayor’s office for being so accommodating.

Mayor Jeff Mutter said he was happy to see the festival do so well due to the efforts of so many, saying the weather couldn’t have been better for this community event.

“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” he said.

He said his primary goal was to make sure the park looked the best it could prior to the event starting last Friday evening.

A visit to the park Tuesday morning showed barely a trace that the festival even happened.

One challenge going forward, said Labbe, will be making sure the park facility is improved enough for future festivals. The bathrooms continued to be an issue this year, he said, and the continued stagnation of the pond still makes it a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

There was a very transparent process in place for distributing the money, he said. Each volunteer hour put in by a youth group counted for $10, with some jobs listed with a blanket number of people and hours (10 people, 10 hours). The second phase allows the CumberlandFest board to give out more money based on a proportional basis of hours worked, but only after all bills are paid and the board holds back a reasonable amount of money for next year.

Comments

I don't understand why you don't just make it mandatory for groups to volunteer in order to receive funds. Seems pretty easy - you don't volunteer, you don't get funds.