Sunday, July 27, 2008


Every July, our village hosts a four-day summer festival, just like those held in small towns throughout America.

Until a couple of years ago, my role was to represent one of the festival's sponsors, a national organization headquartered locally. Honestly, I developed a rather cynical view of the festivities, considering it much ado about very little.

Sure, I enjoyed loitering in the beer garden and rubbing elbows with other business leaders, but beyond that I felt no real connection with the event. It was all about how much marketing bang I could get for my employer's buck.

Then my family and I moved into the community. Not long afterward, I left my job.

I became simply a resident, a citizen, a part of the village. And my perspective shifted.

The festival itself hasn't changed. Local businesses and community groups still strut their carefully practiced stuff before a politely appreciative audience. There's a parade. Carnival rides, games of chance and food vendors crowd the midway.

A hundred vintage and classic cars still gather for a show on the old main street. Local and regional bands come and go on the festival stage, with a big-name musical finale on the event's last evening. The closing act? Fireworks, of course.

Becoming a resident of this community, however, has made a familiar annual event more than a professional obligation for me -- now, this is my home.

From police officers to firefighters to tireless festival volunteers, these are my neighbors. The vitality of this community rises and falls on their shoulders, our shoulders.

I've witnessed my own transformation from dispassionate observer to engaged citizen.

While our community may not be unusual, it is uniquely ours.

That, in my opinion, is well worth celebrating.