By Monte Davis
The 21st-annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival is coming up on us quickly, May 9-12. Always an exciting harbinger of the soon-to-follow summer season, the festival is a homegrown model of private industry, government and non-government agencies, and volunteer efforts working together to create an event in which we can all take pride.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that recent economic trends have tightened budgets everywhere. A lot of grants the festival used to receive and rely on are no longer available. Staff that used to handle a lot of the details of preparatory and event work are no longer employed – let alone available.
Organizations that used to contribute hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars to the effort are no longer able to do so without some form of recompense.
The thing is, you can help in the simplest of ways. Go online or stop by the chamber to register and pay the very small $15 individual/$5 per additional family member fee to register and take part in the festival.
Over the years, a lot of Homer folks have gotten used to just showing up at the “free” events that are part of the festival. Those events are not actually “free.” We should be saying these events are “included with registration.” Part of the problem is the language the festival has used over the years. Nothing is “free.” Every “free” speaker has to be housed and fed while here. Every “free” event goes through hours of planning. Almost all of the “free” food offered at various events has to be paid for. We are taking pains to wipe the word “free” from our vocabulary for next year so we can get across the importance of paying the registration fee.
This year, every person who is registered will receive a nice little “keychain” that will act as a ticket to all “included with registration events.” Anyone who shows up to attend one of these events who does not have this proof of registration will be advised how important it is to financially support the festival, and will be given the opportunity to register then and there.
While we do not think the festival is in immediate financial danger, we would be remiss to not say we are concerned for its sustainability. The last thing any of us want to see is this festival to fall by the wayside. Anybody remember Seafest? Your financial support will help to insure this does not happen.
Please, now, while you are thinking about how much this festival means to you and the community of Homer, go online to www.Homeralaska.org. Look down the right hand side of the home page and register. Or, stop by anytime between now and May 9 at the Chamber/Visitor Center, and we’ll register you there.
Monte Davis is executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
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