City crews contribute to the success of local art fairs

The communities of Hillsboro and Marion are gearing up for their art shows on Saturday. City crews from both towns  contribute a lot to their success.
The communities of Hillsboro and Marion are gearing up for their art shows on Saturday. City crews from both towns contribute a lot to their success.
HILLSBORO

by Don Ratzlaff

The Free Press

If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a community to support a successful arts and crafts fair.

Saturday’s annual event takes care of a lot of the planning and organization, but some tasks are beyond the resources of the Arts & Crafts Committee.

That’s where city government steps in, said City Administrator Larry Paine, who has been in charge of the city’s side of the partnership long enough to recite the list of tasks by memory:

• City crews move trash barrels and carts from the fairgrounds to the downtown area. Once the receptacles are in place, the city will station its two trash trucks at strategic locations and monitor them with personnel.

In recent years, high school groups have volunteered to haul the full trash barrels from their site to the trucks, and back again, for a donation from Arts & Crafts as a fundraiser.

• city crews move the large information booth from its storage site in the city-owned AMPI building and place it in front of the chamber of commerce office.

• electrical crews drape a covering over the state champions sign posted at the golf course to create a temporary billboard for visitors.

“This year, the electric guys are building a two-sided billboard for Arts and Crafts, and it will be placed near the sign that’s out there near (U.S. Highway 56) so people know what’s going on.”

Local emergency responders play an important role in the event as well.

“The police department does a whole bunch in terms of setting up control, keeping traffic moving, monitoring the parking and the illegal parking,” Paine said.

He added that some law enforcement officers working the fair come from other agencies.

“The fire department sets up their fire trucks on both sides of Grand (Avenue) so they have the ability to leave the area (in an emergency) without having to go through a bazllion people,” Paine said.

“Then, the electric guys are also setting up hook-ups where food vendors can plug in for electricity and that sort of thing.”

After basic set up, new tasks arise as Saturday arrives.

“There’s a lot of work in terms of getting everything going,” Paine said. “On Friday night, the police department will be out encouraging people to move their cars off the street so the committee and volunteers can mark off the vendor spaces so there’s a place for everybody to set up.”

Paine said the downtown area where booths are established are patrolled all night, but not by city police officers. He said the committee hires a local resident for that task.

Paine said he doesn’t track the number of hours his crews invest in the event.

“There is some reimbursements (by the committee), but it doesn’t cover everything,” he said.

Paine said the fair benefits the community in a variety of ways, and that’s the goal of city workers and staff.

“The primary purpose is to get people to Hillsboro and have them have a good experience here,” he said. “When they have a good experience, they will come back for future Arts & Crafts events, and they’ll have a chance to wander around and see what kind of businesses we have.

“If there’s something that sparks their attention, they’ll come back again.”

Organization and coordination are key for both fair organizers and city employees.

“In the past we have gotten together to map out the battle plan,” Paine said. “We did that last Tuesday. It’s basically an hour because we’ve done this enough times. But we’ve made it a point to meet with the (fair) director and go over things just to make sure everybody’s on the same page.

“When you don’t do something like that, it becomes ‘this is what I did last year’—and then it gets forgotten. Then, on the morning of (the fair), there’s all of a sudden a crazy hurry up to get something done before somebody shows up—and that just doesn’t work.”

MARION

by Patty Decker

The Free Press

Downtown Marion is pre­paring for back-to-back community festivals starting Sept. 16 with Art in the Park, followed by Old Settler’s Day Sept. 30.

And with only days away from the 40th annual Art in the Park, City Administrator Roger Holter said crews are working hard on last-minute details.

“Their mission is to get the city prepared for a great impression when the 25,000 to 30,000 people experience our community either as visitors or alumni returning to Marion,” he said.

Community festivals are a cooperative effort between a lot of different people, Holter said.

“I will refer to the city crews as the glue that helps hold (these events) together,” he said.

As the events draw closer, Holter said city crews were working at the Marion Municipal Airport, crack sealing the runway, mowing and general freshening up so everything was ready when pilots arrive.

Cedar Street, which is one of the No. 1 main thoroughfares into the city, also had a complete chip coat done, he added.

Last week, Holter said, crews were restriping streets and parking places in the downtown area.

“City crews repaired a water main break Thursday, and after that painted cross­walks until 11 p.m. to make sure they looked as bright as possible.”

Prior to Central Park opening to vendors Friday night, Holter said crews will check all electrical supply connections throughout the park.

Another safety issue is damaged or dying tree limbs in Central Park, which Hol­ter said will be a top priority this week.

Restrooms in the park require somebody being scheduled to replenish them, he said. The sprinkler system in the park has to be reprogrammed for that day as well.

“Prior to setting up, the city crew will be marking underground electrical and all underground plumbing so when vendors are putting up their tents and staking out their spots they are safe.” Holter said.

Crews don’t want somebody driving a tent stake and hitting high voltage.

“City employees have done it long enough that it will be 100 percent marked and 100 percent checked.”

Last week’s staff meeting was completely devoted to department heads providing updates, and how they will interact with one another.

“I found out our off-duty officers will be supporting Hillsboro by helping with security,” Holter said. “These events are important and are big deals for both communities. It’s our job to make sure it comes off as close to flawlessly as possible.”

Other tasks

Before both events, somebody from the city will also be out about 10 p.m. fogging for mosquitoes and other bugs.

Marion Police Department will position its street trailer on Eisenhower, which is where the shuttle bus parking is, as well as the ball field area that comes in for Art in the Park, he said.

Two women, Judy Christensen and Margo Yates, have been instrumental for Art in the Park for a long time, he said.

Yates created a checklist many years ago, which she issues to all city departments during Chingawassa Days, Art in the Park and Old Settler’s Day.

Casey Case is a Kiwanis member, who is also in charge of the Old Settler’s Day parade.

Other groups can also take part in Art in the Park by being food vendors, Holter added.

“A large number of groups will cook hamburgers, sell water, other beverages, as a major fundraising event,” he said.

Because so many visitors, particularly for Old Settler’s weekend, are coming back, Holter said all the prep work needs to be done at the cemetery.

“Everything is freshly mowed, trees are freshly trimmed, and Randy Collett, economic development director, is working on business handout that’s available for visitors to pick it up,” he said.

The handout will show visitors where they can buy fuel, food or other local items.

Event ending

Holter said Chingawassa Days is a bit more entailed than Art in the Park, but there are still items that need to be taken care of prior to the weekend.

“We will have trash trucks running at about 9 p.m. Saturday to empty all trash containers, Dumpsters,” he said. “Sunday morning, all the portable restrooms will be deployed, in addition to taking care of the new restroom complex.”

Those items all need to be taken to the city shop and secured, all before the church services begin.

No compliments sought

City crews want visitors to take things for grant­ed so when they come back that’s how everything should be.

“We have anywhere from 10 to 15 times our population visiting this wonderful city to see what we’re all about, and the team takes so much pride in the fact that they want to impress our visitors,” Holter said. “We aren’t necessarily looking for compliments or recognition.”