Behind the scenes

Published 3:33 pm Sunday, March 18, 2007

By Staff
As Washington begins to gear up for its “busy season,” there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on to provide many activities that will take place from April through October.
Take Joey Toler, interim director, and Dot Moate, president, with Downtown Washington on the Waterfront who are keeping themselves and other DWOW representatives busy preparing for the upcoming Farmers’ Market and Saturday Market season. Those fresh vegetables, fruit, plants for the garden and other goods don’t just show up at the waterfront.
Someone has to work with farmers, take care of the logistics of bringing the markets to the city and coordinate the entertainment for the performance stage at Saturday Market.
For every hour that someone enjoys at a Farmers’ Market or Saturday Market, there likely has been or will be an equivalent hour spent on making sure the markets provide quality goods and operate smoothly.
As for Music in the Streets, that three-hour event just doesn’t show up on downtown streets each month from April through October on its own. The street festival occurs because a committee of volunteers books musicians, sets up performance venues and arranges for food and beverages to be sold on downtown streets.
Gary Tomasulo, president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, and others on the Music in the Streets committee work closely with Kristi Hardison, facilities and special-events supervisor for the City of Washington, to make sure Music in the Streets events are as safe as possible.
That’s why police patrols are as much a part of Music in the Streets as are the musicians, crowds and classic cars.
Don’t forget the Summer Festival, one of Washington’s signature events.
When one Summer Festival ends, planning for the next Summer Festival begins. The Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce’s Lee Hemink, staff and members know that without their planning during the year, the Summer Festival wouldn’t be one of the top attractions in eastern North Carolina.
Most festival-goers see the amusement rides, food booths and entertainment provided along the waterfront. They eat Italian sausages, gyros, barbecue, ice cream, corn dogs, hot dogs, foot-long hot dogs, cheeseburgers, curly fries and funnel cakes. They make their selections, plop down their money and walk away.
But somebody has to register those vendors, help them set up their booths and make sure they have the electricity, ice and other items they need. Somebody has to make sure the festival doesn’t have 12 funnel-cake booths and just one lemonade stand.
Washington also hosts softball and baseball tournaments that may last for several days. While teams show up at the fields ready to hit the ball, somebody’s had to prepare those fields for play, stock the concession stands and find people to work those stands.
Once again, the majority of that work will be done by volunteers.
So, the next time you are at a softball tournament, Music in the Streets event, Farmers’ Market, Saturday Market or a Summer Festival, take some time to thank those who have worked hard to provide those activities. They should be easy to find.
They will be the ones who show up at the events early and leave late. They will be the ones who look a little dirty and sweaty. They will be the ones with smiles on their faces after a successful event.
If you can’t find them, it’s likely they’re behind the scenes and planning another event.