2018-01-10 / Editorial

Don’t like something? Be element of change

Though winter has only just begun, the people responsible for bringing the annual summer events to the communities of Lapeer County are already hard at work planning those events that we’ve all come to expect.

Summer festivals, no matter how small or large, decades-old or brand new, don’t just happen. They’re the result of countless volunteer hours put in by, in many cases, a very small contingent of passionate people.

Such is the case of Imlay City’s first-ever Michigan Busker Festival that will kick off in June. The festival is taking the place of the Imlay City Blueberry Festival as the yearly summer event put on by the Imlay City Chamber of Commerce. While many of the details are currently still under-wraps, with an official announcement scheduled to be made during the Chamber’s yearly Gala on Jan. 20, the move to bring a new festival to Imlay City was one made after careful planning and consideration.

A “busker” is defined as a street performer who puts on a show, whether it’s music, juggling, fire breathing, street art, or any of a myriad of other performances, in most cases for a gratuity of some sort. The Imlay City Chamber of Commerce Festival Committee opted to develop a festival to celebrate creative performance of all kinds. Since an event of this nature is not held elsewhere in our state, Imlay City’s version will be known as The Michigan Busker Festival.

The move away from the Blueberry Festival will sting for many, but it’s a move that was a long time coming, and should be lauded. When the Blueberry Festival was created nearly 40 years ago the Imlay City area was well-known for its blueberry farms. But now, the blueberry farms are gone from the area.

And while Imlay City isn’t exactly known as a hotspot for street performance either, the courage of the Chamber should be admired. With a major Renaissance Festival and music-oriented festivals attracting thousands to other communities in our region, the Busker Festival may hit the right note for those seeking an alternative to more traditional and staid fests.

When the changes were first announced, the Imlay City Chamber of Commerce reported significant negative feedback, and the Sound Off and Letters sections in The County Press were filled for a few weeks with readers expressing their doubts of the new festival. A common thread amongst the detractors was the thought that the Chamber can’t “just change everything” without asking the people of Imlay City what they want.

The problem with that, however, is that they did. Repeatedly. The public was invited to planning forums and chamber members were engaging the public in dialogue. It wasn’t until the decision was made that people were up in arms.

It remains to be seen whether The Michigan Busker Festival will be a success, but it has a passionate team of people behind it who will be working feverishly in the next six months to ensure the event does well for the attendees, the performers and the community of Imlay City.

Rooting against its success is pointless — for better or worse, whether you like it or not, it is happening. Instead of complaining, volunteer. Instead of snickering, educate yourself. Instead of lamenting about blueberries, ask questions. Go to Chamber meetings, make your voice heard. At the end of the day, everyone wants the same thing: for their community to be successful.

One tradition that we believe will be carried on by the new festival is that of hard-working volunteers coming together to celebrate their community and welcoming visitors — and their pocketbooks.

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