Hundreds of volunteers, thousands of hours, and tens of thousands of dollars are committed to the planning of festivals throughout Venango County. Much of the Chamber’s staff time over the last few months has been focused on Oil Heritage and Cranberry Festivals. Business support for these local events has continued to remain strong, through sponsorships and volunteers.
The Chamber begins planning months in advance of each event, securing financial support and coordinating the many activities that make up each schedule.
Chamber President Susan Williams remarks: “Both of our festivals were initiated by local businesses who felt that the community would be well served by events that provided family friendly activities, in local business districts and parks, that would encourage people to come out and celebrate together.”
Oil Heritage Festival celebrated 40 years this year and September 15th will mark year 17 for Cranberry Festival.
“It is always our intention to be loyal to the heritage of these events, as community members have come to expect familiar traditions,” Susan adds. “Our resources have changed, primarily because of the population decline. Businesses operate very differently than they did a few decades ago and that greatly impacts the volunteer base we have to draw from.”
With all of these changes it seems reasonable to ask: “Why hold a community festival?” Would all of this energy be better spent elsewhere?
Scott Snow, owner of 4 Your Car Connection, not only provides major sponsorship to Cranberry Festival, but also strongly encourages all of his staff to volunteer to assist with the activities in Morrison Park.
“The festival not only brings community members together, but it’s a way for our employees to spend time with one another and their families, strengthening our whole workplace, too,” he said.
When asked what inspired the creation of Cranberry Festival in 2001, Festival Chair Lisa Groner says: “We were seeing Cranberry grow as a community and the festival provided an opportunity for businesses to work together, to celebrate those who live here and who do business with us each day. It worked then and it seems to get better each year!”
Several new volunteers from the business community, many young professionals, have enthusiastically stepped forward to help this year.
Cheyenne Latshaw of Latshaw Motors is coordinating the Car Show; Devon Vallies, of Farmers National Bank and his staff are coordinating the children’s area; Ashley McCauley of Rossbacher Insurance Group, Urban/Seneca is coordinating the basket raffle, and Dave McVay, owner of the Log Cabin Restaurant, is chairing the Bake-Off/Cook-Off contest.
Considerable time is also spent by Cranberry Township, making sure that Morrison Park—always beautifully maintained—is looking its best and is staged to accommodate the extra visitors during the festival.
“We are proud of the way we maintain our community and appreciate the opportunity to have the Chamber host an event that businesses and residents can enjoy,” said Chad Findley, township manager.
With the continued support of our members, we anticipate that both Oil Heritage and Cranberry Festivals will continue to be one of the valuable ways we connect to our stakeholders and help them connect with one another.
We hope to see you in Morrison Park on Saturday, September 15, for our 17th Annual Cranberry Festival!
This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s September 2018 edition of the VenangoWorks! Newsletter.