LDA to take Second Saturday one month at a time
By Karen Hall
At their meeting last week, Lewisburg Downtown Alliance members agreed to pull back from a commitment to hold a Second Saturday event on the square every month from May to September.
Longtime member Ken Todd started the discussion by saying, "I think we have to cancel (Second Saturdays) due to lack of participation. I'm very busy with my own work, and I just don't have the energy for it I had in the past."
He suggested spending the year improving membership numbers and building the solid volunteer base that is needed to put on successful events.
John Jarrett praised Todd's work for the LDA and said, "Maybe we could do it every other month? Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water -- interest is starting to simmer. We'd like to see something (on the square) rather than completely stop."
"I'm not opposed to it continuing," said Todd. "Just not under me. Somebody needs to take over what I've tried to do. I have a lot of emotion invested in this thing; nobody's more disappointed and depressed about it than me."
"I think we could cut back," said Treasurer Gene Douglas Parsons, adding, "I don't want to see what we had go downhill to nothing -- maybe we could do two big events."
Todd pointed out the problem is not the lack of people wanting an event, it's "getting enough people to get it done."
The Marshall County Art Guild is holding their "Build the Guild" event at their gallery and in the adjoining Public Square Park on May 10, which happens to be the Second Saturday of the month.
"I'd like to tie in with the Art Guild," said Wayne Glenn. "We could do May and decide."
"You have to adapt as you go along," said LDA President Leland Carden. "Let's talk to Tina (Lilly, president of MCAG) and blend with her -- add what we can do to what they're doing."
"I can do pony rides," volunteered member Sarah Coutu. "I've got hula hoops, a band, and karaoke, and we have money for a bouncy house."
Members agreed to push forward with the May event, calling vendors, advertising, getting the insurance, and looking into closing Commerce Street on the south side of the square to make it safe for visitors to cross back and forth to the art gallery.
A guest at the LDA meeting was Trina Rios, organizer of the Giles and Marshall County Relays for Life.
"We're doing Relay for Life on the second Saturday in June in Rock Creek Park," she said. "We have some of the same issues you do. The teams have dwindled down: we used to have 15 teams, now we have 10. We (the organizing committee) have four members and we're doing it all. It's just really hard in Marshall County."
This year's Relay will start at noon Saturday, and will run until one minute past midnight, thus including a lot of daylight hours for people to come to the park and enjoy the games, entertainment, food, bouncy house, dunking booth (ideal for political candidates!), and car show. Unlike the LDA's Second Saturdays, where everything is free, Relay charges, but all the money goes to the American Cancer Society.
"It's a big deal," exclaimed Glenn. "Good going! We've just got to go forward."
"Let them (Relay) take that Saturday," said Parsons, and the group agreed.
"Well, we've taken care of two months," said Carden as the meeting prepared to adjourn. "Think what the square looked like five years ago. There's been a lot of improvement since then."
Joyce and Gary Lee, making their first visit to an LDA meeting, volunteered to help.
"Other towns have squares that are a destination" for tourists, said Joyce Lee. "We'd love to see that happen here."
Board members have been appointed to fill the vacant places, and the LDA board now consists of Parsons, Todd, and Coutu (Class of 2014); Carden, Rick Tillis, and Ann Jarrett (Class of 2015); and Thomas Spiller, Lilly, and Glenn (Class of 2016).
Rios emphasized it is not too late to form a team for Relay for Life -- just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (931) 908-0041. Be sure to check out the Facebook pages for the Lewisburg Downtown Alliance and Relay for Life of Marshall County Tennessee.