I read in the paper that we were on track to have one of the wettest Septembers on record. The wettest September was 2008. No surprise there. Our workers still remember that year. Both years, 2008 and 2016, we were ahead of schedule in the set-up of the Festival. And both years, we had to tear everything down, move it off grounds, and set it up again when the water receded from the fairgrounds. A double set-up and teardown within the space of a week. Was it double the pleasure, double the fun? No, but our workers are dedicated to the Festival and they got it done. We would like to thank everyone who helped, but particularly our Grounds Crew under the direction of Rick Meyer. And the people with tractors and 4-wheel drive trucks who came and helped when we needed to evacuate the campgrounds.
WVA’s first concern was taking care of people, and was focused on getting everyone out of the areas where the water had risen – and then when everyone was safely out of the campgrounds, we started to move out the stages and all the trailers needed for operations. Kudos to our staff and crew … they did a tremendous job, and we would like to recognize just how difficult it was. Although the campers were moved to the Winfield City Lake and other camping areas close by, and the attendance was diminished, there were still long hours to get through the Festival with an already tired staff and crew who had put in long hours. I noticed several Festival stories giving credit to “volunteers.” Although we do have some volunteers that step up when they see the need, I would like to correct a misconception. Other than the first few years when we were struggling to get established, we have paid our work force. As the Festival has grown, that work force has gotten larger, and it is our policy that everyone is paid accordingly. Even in the years the Festival lost money, everyone was paid for their services. In return we have an incredibly loyal and dedicated group of people; the Walnut Valley Community.
We would not have survived otherwise, because this is an outdoor event and always, always dependent on the weather. We try hard not to forget that, because in the early years when we had one bad year, we could make it until the next year. That changed in 1985-1986, when we had two bad weather years in a row. Since then, that has been our constant reminder that when the unexpected happens, we get through it and plan better the next year. With that in mind, when we try to list individual names, someone gets left out, so this is a big THANKS to everyone who helped in any way. We have dealt with it all. Hot. Cold. Rain. Frost. And even Snow – or maybe that was Ice.
Thank you all very much!! See you next year. And our new song is: “Ah, the stories we Could Tell.”
Walnut Valley Association President, Bob Redford