With the hope that COVID-19-related restrictions will soon begin to relax, the Town of Lovettsville has begun looking at ways to solicit more support to once again host the town’s popular annual events.
The Town Council last Thursday night discussed restructuring the town’s events committees to bring in more volunteer support and to make events even more successful than before, especially for in-town businesses. The council also resolved to plan a committee open house, in which residents will be invited out to learn about events committees and how they can get involved.
Last week’s discussion followed resignations by multiple committee volunteers late last year.
In November, the council voted to re-appoint to the Oktoberfest Committee resident Andru Spangler—who was removed from committee in June after posting a controversial comment on a North Carolina-based newspaper’s Facebook page to an article with the headline “Confederate Battle Flags Removed From Graves”—which prompted four community volunteers to resign from their posts on that committee.
There have been multiple other resignations from town committees in recent years. According to research done by resident Brian Stearns, 22 people have resigned from their spots on town committees, most since August 2020. Stearns said he found that those 22 people brought with them dozens of other volunteers through the years who have now also stepped away.
Still, Councilwoman Renee Edmonston said it was frustrating to hear talks that the town has a lack of events committee volunteers.
“I think that’s the wrong message,” she said.
Edmonston said many people are just too busy to volunteer on event committees. Councilwoman Joy Pritz said many people feel that volunteering on a town committee is “complicated.” She suggested the town simplify its committee structure.
Edmonston said the town should also host “business-centric” events to help businesses sales. She gave an example of communities in Florida, which, she said, do a good job hosting entertainment and other events for residents and visitors.
“It’s just constant,” she said.
Vice Mayor David Steadman agreed the town should approach event planning with a focus more centered on helping businesses.
“They know how to get the bottom dollar,” he said. “It’s going to only help them in the long run.”
Overall, Mayor Nate Fontaine pointed out that Lovettsville’s events—which includes an annual Oktoberfest event that brings in more than 10,000 visitors each year—are “the envy” of many other jurisdictions in Virginia. He said those jurisdictions marvel at the town’s ability to put on such popular and successful events without the help of a paid event staff.
“These events have been built through years and not just slapped together,” he said.
Fontaine said he would work to put together information on the planning of a committee open house, where committee chairpersons will have the opportunity to provide potential volunteers with detailed information on what their committees do. He said he would come back to the council with those plans in the next two weeks.