Independence Day celebration in jeopardy

By: Laurel Mathe
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There’s a bit of irony in this history snippet. I was a member of the Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce when they handled Colfax’s Fourth of July celebration. I was a part of the Colfax Chamber Board, which later voted – for lack of volunteers and funding – to cancel the Fourth of July celebration. Forming a grassroots movement, locals (Cyndy Jacob, Linda Chapman, Graig Sultana, Jim Bowers, Melba and Ken Delfino and Mike Maynard) decided the celebration couldn’t die, that they would take it over and keep it going, naming this budding non-profit Colfax Pride, Inc. No longer a volunteer for the Colfax Chamber, I joined the Colfax Pride Board a couple of years later because they were doing the kind of work in the community, (including hosting the Winter Festival), in which I wanted to be involved. The irony comes in because Colfax Pride, Inc. has reached a similar place that the Colfax Chamber found itself years ago: Fewer volunteers and funding have once again put Colfax’s Independence Day celebration in jeopardy, particularly in these financially difficult times. I am now on a second board that has chosen to cancel its organization of the community celebration. So … does Colfax want to keep hosting a Fourth of July celebration? What would be needed here? First, it would need an infusion of new blood. The 12 people, give or take, who have organized the event the last five years cannot run the event indefinitely. In addition, a number of the volunteers and board members have run into situations this year making it impossible for them to maintain the same level of commitment to Colfax Pride, Inc. in the future. Second, each year many thousands of dollars worth of funding for the Independence Day celebration must be donated and earned. Third, the event with its need for insurance, security, coordination of fire, law enforcement, emergency personnel, City of Colfax, railroad schedules and permissions, vendors and their requirements, and on and on, is a huge project. Colfax Pride, Inc. has committed to work with any other group as one-on-one volunteer consultants in this time of transition. At this point, if there is no change in how things are, Colfax’s Independence Day celebration will be cancelled. It is important at this point to let the community know the celebration’s future is uncertain. I don’t know if this column is asking for help, or from whom, or if it is a call for a new group to step forward. Or if this is one way to get a community discussion going. There may not be enough concern within the community to warrant retention of the annual Independence Day celebration. But if there is, now is the time to step forward. On another note, the Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce and Colfax Pride Inc. are co-chairing a mixer from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 14 at Ex-Wire, 233 So. Auburn St. Please stop by if you’re interested in volunteering with one or both of our organizations. Or stop in to say “hi.” Laurel Mathe serves on the board of Colfax Pride, Inc.