CumberlandFest announces $20,000 in grants, names Schimmel director

CumberlandFest announces $20,000 in grants, names Schimmel director

CUMBERLAND – The revamped CumberlandFest, aided by perfect weather and a series of new offerings, secured enough money to donate more than $20,000 to local youth groups, which for the first time this year included non-sports organizations.

Cumberland Youth Activities Council Chairman Alan Neville said organizers really saw this year’s CumberlandFest in August as “the turnaround event,” learning some valuable lessons and gaining confidence through record attendance of 13,000 people that CumberlandFest is back and ready to grow.

Each of the beneficiary groups received between $1,000 and $4,000 in return for their volunteer hours with the event, with the Boy Scouts winning the largest share.

“I think we could grow that amount in the future,” said Neville of the donations to groups. CumberlandFest has always had a two-fold purpose of acting as the town’s main summer event and supporting the local youth groups, he said. As an added benefit, it also now draws more attention for Diamond Hill Park at a time when there’s a groundswell of support for improving the park.

The Board of Directors of the CYAC, the nonprofit organization that runs CumberlandFest, last week announced the naming of Jerry Schimmel as executive director of CumberlandFest 2020.

“We are delighted that Jerry accepted our invitation to assume the post of executive director,” said Neville. “Jerry has been involved with the event since its inception, and his combination of experience, leadership style and commitment makes him the ideal person for this important role.” Schimmel succeeds Ernest Labbe who served as executive director this year.

Schimmel really expressed a desire to take the leadership position, said Neville, but wanted to make sure that as he continues in a full-time job he’ll have the support of other people involved. He said he thinks this will be a good team effort, with Schimmel’s solid leadership skills, connections, and enthusiasm.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue to work toward developing a sense of pride in this event and our community,” said Schimmel. “CumberlandFest 2020 marks our 30th anniversary year, a considerable milestone. With the full support of the community, we expect it will be the best CumberlandFest yet.”

Schimmel has been a Cumberland resident for 34 years. He and his wife Linda have raised five children in Cumberland, all of who have been involved in youth and high school sports and graduated from Cumberland High School. He has been actively involved in several Cumberland-based organizations, particularly with youth.

“I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude to Ernie Labbe who served as executive director in 2019,” said Schimmel. “We have both been involved over the years with CumberlandFest and feared that our special community event could fade away due to a variety of reasons. Horrible weather plagued us in 2018, and at the beginning of this year there was a real possibility that CumberlandFest would be no more. Ernie stepped in and along with a small group of volunteers, we worked tirelessly and creatively to ensure CumberlandFest would occur and be placed in a solid position to continue for years to come.”

With all the improvements to the 2019 event, the CYAC was able to donate $20,000 to the grant recipients, which included Cumberland Youth Baseball/Softball, the Cumberland Boys’ Cross-Country Booster Club, the Cumberland High School Band, Boy Scout Troop 1 Arnold Mills, the Cumberland Hockey Booster Club, the Cumberland Dance Company, Boy Scout Troop 64, and Boy Scout Troop 1 Manville.

The groups that will earn grants from year to year will vary, said Neville, but it will be their choice whether they participate.

“We are grateful for the participation of the youth organizations that are instrumental in ensuring that CumberlandFest comes together seamlessly,” said Neville. “This year our financial success made it possible to make a donation that was equivalent to $25 per volunteer hour expended. This money will be used to enhance programs, purchase needed equipment and provide general operating support to these great organizations that serve our community’s youth.”

CYAC is currently recruiting new board members and volunteers for various committees to help with the planning and running of CumberlandFest 2020. Visit www.cumberlandfest.org/volunteer-opportunties for more.