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Is your scarecrow ready for eleventh hour Pumpkin Festival?

Is your scarecrow ready for the third annual “Scarecrows on Main” in Mountain City? The deadline is this Wednesday and they will be on display beginning Thursday, October 14th.
For the past two years West Main Street’s lamp posts have been decorated with scarecrows of various shapes, sizes characters and themes.  This year it’s time for your version. Once they were up in past years, parking spots were in short supply during the last two weeks of October.  Car tags from several adjoining states have been seen driving by, stopping with their occupants taking pictures of the creative scarecrows many businesses and organizations have provided.   It’s a fun activity. It’s fun to look at and great to see others enjoying our town.
Then there’s the rest of the story:  The Mountain City Council voted not to sponsor the Pumpkin Festival this year due to the poor economic conditions we are experiencing. Also cut were pumpkins as decorations. The council approved only a small pot of change for the winning scarecrow prizes, money which will come from the collected entry fees.  The idea amongst those voting for it was that the town will keep a large part of those dollars from the entry fees to use for something else.
I think Council missed the boat.  What better way to boost an area’s local economy than to give people from miles around a reason to visit our town and spend money here? While the first Pumpkin Festival lost a fairly modest $800 or so, last year’s saw a small gain of a couple thousand dollars.  I use the words “lost” and “gain” loosely as there is no way to know the amount of money actually gained for the town from event attendees spending their money at our local businesses. That spending meant sales tax dollars for the town’s operating budget.
It is not unusual for start-up events like the Pumpkin Festival to be profitable and hit their stride after several years of “figuring it out” and “working out the kinks.”  So, such an event would only come into its own in the third and fourth years, provided we all are able to maintain the same sort of participation and commitment the founders had the first years.
Time and again I hear that a town should provide only essential services to its residents so as to  justify the property tax dollars residents must pay.
I disagree. A town must do more.  I believe that with festivals and other events in town, we as a city government are giving a little more than that back. We need to help our businesses have more customers because our businesses need those sales dollars to stay open. At the same time these events provide our people a little something to do.   Unfortunately, our current city council is not focusing on what we should be doing to help build our town’s economy or develop things to do for our residents.  As it stands now, the council will only do what is absolutely necessary if the option of doing nothing isn’t an option.  For me, this is very sad.
Thankfully a local businessman, Casey Dorenbusch, with Mountain City Marketing stepped up to the plate. Incidentally, it was this event that helped Casey make the decision to move here after he came to the pumpkin festival last year. This is exactly why we need to look at these events as stepping stones to bring more jobs and industry to town. There will be a Pumpkin Festival on Saturday, October 30th  all day at the Ralph Stout Park. If you can volunteer to help by providing entertainment, vending or games, please contact my office immediately at 727-2940. Casey is also adding a significant amount of prize money for the top three winning scarecrows. So, the job will get done.
We are lucky this time. It was NOT through the work of the current city council.  I challenge you to voice your opinion to the board. Give them some thoughtful, logical opinions on what town leaders should focus on. Tell them you are tired of them saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  I, for one, have heard that one too many times lately.
I encourage you to contact the town board to express your ideas. You can send comments to [email protected] and I will forward all comments to every board member. My personal cell number is 291-9256. Let us know things like what activities are needed.  And what steps might put new businesses on Main Street?
All of us need to get over this halo of doom and gloom while we all sit back and wait for the tumbleweeds to roll past those one or two scarecrows put up by a faithful few who still believe there can be life in Mountain City once again.  It’s time to get that pumpkin rolling!