It’s now or never again for Lonsdale Community Days

"We just can’t do it anymore," said Lorrie Adams, the Chamber Board President and a Community Days organizer. "The Chamber is just done."

Her sentiments, along with that of other Chamber Board members were discussed in a meeting held Monday, Sept. 25, to gather public input on how the future of the timehonored three-day festival should be managed.

Mike Herrmann, Chamber Board Director, led the meeting by stating that the biggest challenge facing Lonsdale Community Days is volunteers and the resources necessary to keep the event alive and running smoothly.

"I’m happy to see this much care and interest," he said to the gathered crowd of approximately 30 community members. "Yet it’s sad that there are more people here tonight than there were volunteers at Community Days this year."

Herrmann explained that about five years ago the Chamber created the Community Days event chair planning committee. This committee, made up of board members and community members, works year round to bring together the celebration that takes place the second weekend in August.

He said that to streamline the process involved in planning the festival, all aspects are funneled through the Chamber office instead of through the person chairing each particular event of the festival. This takes a lot time and resources for the Chamber’s executive director, Shanna Gutzke-Kupp, who works for the Chamber parttime.

"We’re here to help local businesses," he said, adding that he would like to see her resources be spent more on business related activities.

As it stands, though much of Gutzke-Kupp’s time and efforts go into Community Days, the Chamber sees no financial gain from the event. In fact, there’s an entirely separate account dedicated solely for the purposes of Community Days.

Herrmann suggested three ways to simplify the Chamber’s load for the event. Any one of these options would help lighten their load and help them feel less burnt out.

The first option is to get more volunteers.

Volunteers have been hard to come by, especially this year. Despite their efforts through social media, newspaper articles, Internet based options, and other communication forms, the number of volunteers was "poor" this year, he said.

Organizer Adams even recruited a friend from Minneapolis to help with the event because there were so few signed up to volunteer locally.

"It’s sad that we have to get people from Minneapolis that care about our community more than our own community members," she said.

The second option is to shorten the length from a multi-day festival to a single day.

All in all, volunteers spent....

To see more on this story pick up the September 28, 2017 print edition of The New Prague Times.