Mountain Festival debacle displays need for new event leadership
For the second year in a row, the Sandy community has been informed of the cancellation of the Mountain Festival carnival.
As someone who grew up in Sandy, attended local schools and returned to Sandy to raise my own family, I've been astonished at the lack of leadership displayed for our town's annual flagship event.
Despite support for spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to "re-brand" our city, left ignored is the one annual event that brings our community together and promotes the wonderful place we live.
The Sandy Mountain Festival is one of the largest in Oregon and attracts thousands of people to town each year. According to the festival's website, its purpose is to enhance Sandy's business climate by showcasing products, allowing local nonprofit organizations to raise funds, providing artists a forum for their talents, and promoting community pride and participation.
Basically, the Sandy Mountain Festival provides citizens opportunities and allows our city to put its best foot forward.
The festival has been run for years (this being the 46th year) by a dedicated and hardworking group of volunteers. In recent years, they've been forced to persevere through multiple obstacles with little help from City Hall. You would think the city would want to put all resources possible behind an event that garners so much attention.
Six years ago, the city attempted to end the long-standing festival parade. At the time, they cited ODOT's small fee of $1,500 to access Pioneer Boulevard as the reason. As a result, I started the Facebook page "Save the Sandy Mountain Festival Parade" that grew to more than 600 fans overnight. We obtained an official statement from ODOT that they in no way wished to obstruct the parade.
Because of passionate community members, we saved the parade.
This brings us to today. After hearing of the cancelation of the carnival last week, I started thinking of local community members that have both the space available and the community-minded focus to host the carnival.
I immediately contacted Paul and Lila Reed, owners of Mount Hood Athletic Club, who were eager to offer their help in exploring the possibility of using some of their land on Highway 26. It's community members like Paul and Lila that make Sandy a wonderful place to live and raise a family. Sadly, the festival board had already cancelled its contract with the carnival company so the carnival will still not happen this year, but at least there is a possible location for consideration for future years.
While I understand that most of the work and planning for the festival is done by the committee, it's imperative that the city begins to coordinate logistics and show this kind of proactive leadership to troubleshoot issues. How is it possible that one simply cannot find a local business owner, a community organization or a parcel of publicly owned land for a carnival one weekend out of the year?
Sandy deserves new leadership for our quickly growing city who will respect our past and traditions, and help steer us into the future. Sandy is a wonderful city and puts on a good event in the Mountain Festival each year. But isn't it time to be great?