1928 - Alderson High School - 1968
Jennifer   -   and   I   -   are   SO   excited   about   the   plans   so   far   for   this   year's   festival.   We   had   a   great   first   meeting with   lots   of   great   ideas   and   enthusiasm.   Since   many   know   that   Jennifer   came   up   with   the   idea   for   the festival   last   year,   people   are   already   telling   her   they   are   looking   forward   to   it   this   year.   That,   along   with   the sellout   success   of   last   year's   first   festival,   shows   us   that   we   need   to   be   fully   prepared   for   what   promises   to be an even bigger event with possibly huge crowds this year (the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend). As   she   has   said,   our   mostly   volunteer   team   can   and   will   do   amazing   things,   but   we   still   need   a   leader   who can   be   responsible   for   overseeing   all   of   the   different   elements   needed,   someone   who   can   spend   the amount   of   time   needed   to   bring   all   the   different   efforts   together,   leaving   no   gaps   along   the   way   -   especially as   we   strive   to   firmly   establish   and   grow   the   festival   in   this   second   year.   We   can't   afford   to   lose   any   ground at   this   point.   We   need   for   attendees   to   have   an   amazing   experience   so   that   they   will   return   year   after year....bringing   more   and   more   people   along   with   them   to   what   can   quickly   become   one   of   our   area's   most popular festivals. I   am   especially   excited   to   learn   that   Jennifer   has   found   a   wonderful   candidate   to   act   as   coordinator   for   this event.   Mystic   Miller   is   a   young,   enthusiastic   college   graduate   who   is   already   gathering   experience   as   an AmeriCorps   member   with   the   Greenbrier   Valley   Health   Alliance.   She   is   also   seeking   additional   part   time work   -   and   is   ready   and   willing   to   devote   the   time   needed   over   the   next   4   months   to   oversee   the   festival preparations.     Jennifer     has     also     already     secured     donations     to     cover     the     festival     coordinator's compensation. But that's not all! We   are   extremely   fortunate   that   Jennifer   came   up   with   the   idea   for   the   Strawberry   Festival   idea   last   year, and   then   that   Lynda   Howe   brought   it   together   to   make   it   a   reality   in   a   short   amount   of   time.   Because   of their efforts, and the hours spent by various volunteers, the festival was a big success. Unfortunately,   Lynda's   contract   for   coordinating   events   for   Alderson   ran   out   last   summer,   and   it   was   not renewed because she had plans to move out of the area. The   original   intent,   as   I   understand   it,   was   to   find   a   replacement   for   her   position,   but   there   has   been   some delay   in   both   the   recruitment   process   and   the   effort   to   find   a   new   way   to   pay   for   the   part-time   position. The hope,   originally,   was   also   to   find   a   replacement   while   Lynda   was   still   here...so   that   the   new   person   could be   easily   brought   up   to   speed   on   what   has   been   done   so   far   to   develop   current   festivals,   concerts   and more   to   create   a   smooth   and   seamless   transition.   We   don't   want   someone   to   have   to   start   from   scratch   in building this program of events, if we can avoid that at all. I   believe   we   all   agree   that   Lynda   did   an   absolutely   amazing   job   in   the   last   few   years...and   has   sown   the seeds   that   we   need   to   now   cultivate   in   order   to   continue   moving   Alderson   forward.   Businesses   in   town   - such   as   my   family's   store   -   have   seen   a   significant   increase   in   sales   in   the   last   two   years   in   particular,   due to   the   increase   in   tourist   traffic   to   our   town   as   a   result   of   Lynda's   efforts.   New   businesses   have   opened,   old businesses   have   decided   to   stay   open,   and   more   new   businesses   are   in   the   works.   We   truly   cannot   afford to lose that momentum now. The   fact   of   the   matter   is   that   Lynda   Howe   is   still   here   right   now...and   will   be   for   the   next   few   months   at least.   Main   Street   did   hire   her   on   a   project   basis   to   help   grow   the   Grand   Illumination   festivities   this   year, and   it   was   more   than   worth   the   investment.   The   Grand   Illumination   is   growing   by   leaps   and   bounds already...and much of it is due to the many hours that Lynda has put into it. Lynda   loves Alderson,   has   invested   a   lot   of   time   in   our   community,   and   would   be   happy   to   help   get   a   new person   up   to   speed   in   her   old   position.   It   would   be   a   true   shame   not   to   utilize   her   energy,   creativity   and EXPERIENCE   now   while   we   can.   Our   community   has   also   invested   in   Lynda   -   and   we   can   get   even   more of   a   return   on   our   investment   if   we   can   secure   a   successor   as   soon   as   possible   and   have   Lynda   pass along   the   information   and   experience   she   has   gathered   here   so   far.   At   the   very   least,   we   have   the opportunity to do that with the Strawberry Festival. I   fervently   hope   that   we   can   work   on   finding   ways   to   fund   a   replacement   for   Lynda's   old   position...and   that this   will   just   be   the   beginning   of   a   new   and   beneficial   working   relationship   with   Mystic   Miller. Travis   Barkley suggested   at   one   time   that   we   research   the   possibilities   of   using   our   relationship   with   the   WV   Community HUB   to   find   grants   that   could   fund   this   position.   There   are   also   other   programs   that   have   been   mentioned along   the   way   as   possible   funding   opportunities.   I   am   confidant   that   if   we   all   put   our   heads   together,   we can make it happen. In   the   meantime,   the   plan   for   the   Strawberry   Festival   is   to   secure   enough   in   donations   and   other   fund- raising   in   order   pay   Lynda   Howe   in   a   Consultant   role   to   advise   and   assist   Mystic   Miller   as   the   Festival Coordinator.   Both   Jennifer   Gilkerson   and   I   are   passionate   about   making   this   happen...and   there   are various options to make it a reality. Jennifer   is   a   major   donor/sponsor   of   the   event;   she   is   the   idea   person   behind   the   formation   of   the   festival; and    she    essentially    is    the    Chairperson    of    the    committee.    She    is    committed    to    making    significant investments   in   time   and   money   in   order   to   grow   the   festival...and   feels   that   these   roles   are   the   best   way   to make   that   happen.   Her   Sunset   Berry   Farm   has   donated   $500   specifically   to   help   pay   the   wages   needed for   the   Coordinator   and   Consultant.   Rainelle   Medical   Center   has   also   pledged   $500   toward   this   goal. And Jennifer   is   in   the   process   of   contacting   and   recruiting   other   possible   sponsors   and   donors.   Let   us   know   if you have any other suggestions of organizations and businesses to contact. We   also   found   out   at   our   first   meeting   that   Greenbrier   Valley   Health   Alliance   has   given   us   $1000.   The mission   of   their   grant   is   to   promote   health   in   any   form   and   also   to   promote   community   involvement.   We have   some   money   saved   from   fund   raising   efforts   during   last   year's   festival.   And   we   have   discussed creating   a   crowd   funding   account   online.   We   would   also   like   to   make   a   formal   request   to   Main   Street   to donate   whatever   amount   they   feel   they   can   to   the   festival.   Please   advise   us   on   the   best   way   to   go   about making that request...and the best way to officially make the hires we have addressed here. We   need   to   move   on   this   quickly   as   we   are   actually   running   out   of   time.   Four   months   is   a   relatively   short amount of time to make BIG things happen. And it will go by much quicker than you might think. The   Strawberry   Festival   Committee's   next   meeting   will   be   Friday,   February   10   at   5:30   p.m.   at   the   Visitor's Center.   Everyone   is   welcome   to   attend   to   find   out   more   and   contribute   ideas.   Most   importantly,   we   will need   a   large   group   of   volunteers   to   help   us   make   all   the   different   elements   of   the   festival   happen.   We already have a good, strong core group...and we can always use more hands! Thank you for your time and interest. Here's to yet another exciting Alderson festival in the making! Sincerely, Sarah Alderson
Alderson’s 2017 Strawberry Festival Sarah Alderson - January 27, 2017