Commentary: Suspension of Cornfest a reality check for Camp Verde
Who can you contact to volunteer?
• Camp Verde Promotions - 928-301-0922
• Trish Peterson - 1-928-350-9420
• Julie Keeney - 928-301-6420
• Bobbie Tennant - 928-300-0179
• Carlie Androus - 928-567-7465
• Julie Scott - 928-963-1085
• Darlene Williams - 928-451-1278
• Nikki Miller - 928-592-9137
Volunteerism is the lifeblood of any community.
It’s also an endeavor that can suck the life right out of you.
That’s been a recurring theme in Camp Verde over the past five years.
There was a time when Town Hall carried the financial burden each year to promote and put on the town’s signature events such as Fort Verde Days, Camp Verde Cornfest, Spring Heritage Pecan and Wine Festival and the former Crawdad Festival. Those costs were estimated to be as high as $600,000 annually, and took up as much as 40 percent of town employees’ time in the month prior to each event.
Both fiscally and physically, the town was overburdened by these events because of a lack of community volunteers to do the heavy lifting.
Camp Verde Promotions came to the rescue when the town dramatically cut back on its investment in these events. The work of the Camp Verde Promotions board in keeping these events alive represented community volunteerism at its best.
And it’s worst.
In event after event after event, the volunteers that kept these events alive became all-too-familiar faces.
As longtime Camp Verde Promotions Board Member Nikki Miller wrote in a commentary to this newspaper last November, “We are tired and if these events are going to continue, we need help … We need board members and people on committees to plan the events. Together the time commitment will be less for everyone involved. The question is: Is working and volunteering 5-15 hours per events worth having events in our Town?”
Another commentary written by Camp Verde Economic Development Director Steve Ayers stated, “It is also time for the people who live in Camp Verde to decide if, in fact, these special events are still special ... If they are still of value, it’s time the residents said so, not by a collective shout of support, but by a collective commitment to volunteer their time.”
That challenge apparently has gone unanswered.
This week, the Camp Verde Promotions Board of Directors announced that the community’s annual Cornfest at Hauser Farms has been suspended until further notice primarily because of a lack of volunteers and community interest.
That same announcement included something of a warning about Camp Verde’s most noteworthy annual event, Fort Verde Days. “If the community is interested and willing to help with Fort Verde Days, they need to contact Camp Verde Promotions by July 1.”
That easily can be interpreted to say that it’s not a matter of when the 2018 Fort Verde Days event will take place, but if that community tradition will continue.
The suspension of the annual Cornfest event once again means Camp Verde needs to assess just how important these events are to the town. It’s a red flag for the Town Council to again take up the discussion if such events are worthy of more investment of town resources. It’s a tug on the entire community’s conscience about the importance of volunteerism.
One thing is obvious. The current formula is not working. The same volunteers are stepping up and carrying a disproportionate load at every community event. It’s become abusive. They’re long past the point of burnout.
If ever there has been a reality check moment for Camp Verde, this is it.