Sense of Community Keeps Westminster Fallfest Board Members Involved
Volunteering for Westminster Fallfest is a lifestyle for several board members.
Sure, the Westminster Fallfest offers fun for all ages with rides, arts and crafts, shopping, live entertainment and yummy food. But there is another aspect of the event that has kept some board members coming back for three decades -- a sense of small town community spirit.
"I think all of us (board members) love the community and want to make it the best it can be and promote the community to people who don't know about it," Board Member Roberta Kasik said. "The other side of it would be that it helps the less fortunate people in the community and to see that in action is very rewarding."
Kasik got involved with the first Westminster Fallfest event in 1978. Her parents owned a business in Westminster for 40 years and Kasik said she and her mother were involved with the Downtown Merchant's Association when the concept of Fallfest was started.
When Fallfest originated, the focus was promoting downtown and bringing people to a "struggling business area," Westminster Fallfest Board President Marshall Green said. "Charity wasn't originally part of the idea."
Kasik was a dedicated Fallfest volunteer and in 1983, when she started dating her now husband, Brian Kasik, she brought him along for the ride. The duo has been a cornerstone of the event for close to 30 years.
Brian now serves as the vice president of the Fallfest board of directors. He agreed that there is a sense of community found at Fallfest that represents the heart of not only Westminster, but small town America.
"During the national anthem, everybody freezes on the grounds, everything stops, we all look at the flag and place our hand over our hearts and I'm looking out over all these people doing this at once in this little community," he recalls. "I just get the warm fuzzies and a real deep sense of community and people working together for a common cause. I love that feeling. And then it's like 'play ball' and things open up, the ticket booth starts selling, music starts playing, vendors start making food, and Fallfest is in full swing."
Green has been an avid Fallfest supporter since it was started in 1978 when he was a junior at Westminster High School and participated as part of a class project. In the early 1980's he joined the Fallfest committee and hasn't looked back.
Now a Hampstead resident and pastor at two churches, Green said the event requires an exhausting amount of planning and work.
"So much work goes into the planning and every year I get to the point of asking 'Is it worth all of this?' And then we have the parade, then we have our special events, then we see the families coming to the grounds and getting on the rides, and then we see some less fortunate folks in the community come down to the park and have a blast, and I say to myself, 'This is what it's all about.'" Green said. "It's about making our community shine, about families, about what's good with society and not what is bad--there's so much good."
Growth and Charity
Green said that in its early years, Fallfest was held between Main Street and Liberty Street in Westminster.
"The event started to expand up Main Street and after 10 years or so we got the idea to just move it to the playground, to stop the traffic congestion, to utilize the parking lot and to expand for our first year with carnival rides on the playground," Green explained.
After several years of successfully promoting the downtown business area with the Fallfest event, the frugal board of directors found that the event had unexpectedly made money.
"We were surprised the first year that we had a dollar left over and we looked at each other and said 'What do we do with this?'," Green said. "From that point on, we maintained a reserve to reinvest in the event and the residue became charitable proceeds."
And according to Roberta, much of the sense of community that exists at the event is a result of the involvement of the charities and the citizens that support those charities.
"We really consider the charities our partners in this," she said. "They provide the manpower for the event, and so much more."
Over the years, many of Westminster's nonprofit organizations have received funds from Fallfest. This year's designated Fallfest charities are Access Carroll, Carroll County Youth Service Bureau, Carroll Hospice and the Boys and Girls Club of Westminster.
Many of the 13 Fallfest board members have been involved in the event for a decade or more. For some, like the Kasiks and Marshall Green, being involved with Fallfest is a lifestyle.
"It's not just a four day event for us anymore," Mr. Kasik said. "It's a year-round commitment, we're already working on next year's event."
The Westminster Fallfest will take place Sept. 22 through Sept. 25. The Fallfest Parade will be on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. Learn more about the event at www.westminsterfallfest.org.