Summer Fest 2018 is in the books, and organizers have a big task ahead of them: making next year’s even better.
It’s a tall order, as 2018 was a banner year.
Held Aug. 11 and 12 on the green in Brookfield Center, Summer Fest attracted its biggest crowds, its most parade units and its widest variety of vendors, organizers said.
And, oh, the kids!
“We were so busy Saturday that I don’t think we even put our heads up to see what was going on in the place,” said Summer Fest Committee Co-President Karen Saker, who worked the kids craft booth.
Sunday was slower, but the kids were lined up early and “We had more on a Sunday than we’ve ever had before,” Saker said.
People appreciated that there were free things for the kids to do, said Summer Fest committee member Jean Malandro, who also worked the kids craft booth.
The bike, wagon and stroller parade and the bed race attracted more participants than they had before, the Chalk on the Walk filled the sidewalk – with inspirational word contributions from teenagers a key addition – the Warren Civic Chorus Children’s Choir and karate demonstrations were well-attended, and High 5 the Clown was a big hit with kids, but kept teens and adults entertained, too, officials said.
Moving the parade from the evening to noon on Saturday seemed to have the desired effect of getting people to stick around and take in other Summer Fest activities.
“The food booth, we were busy,” said committee member Diane Bulick, noting the Brookfield United Methodist Church, which organizes Summer Fest, sold out of its chicken dinners.
“We sold out of sausages at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, and then the pulled pork,” she said. “We ended up running out and buying ground meat and making sloppy joes.”
Brookfield Fallen Firefighters Foundation staged a water battle, a reverse tug-of-war in which three-member teams of firefighters use water from a fire hose to nudge a ball on a suspended wire. It attracted families from outside the area who had loved ones participating in the challenge.
“The water battle got a lot of good publicity,” said committee member Sandy Sydlowski.
It takes about $8,000 a year to run Summer Fest, and local businesses and organizations came through with sponsorships and donations to the Chinese auction.
“The community support was great,” said committee member Becky Hoffman.
But, those outside the community also contributed to the success. Visitors came from as far away as Conneaut and Ellwood City, Pa., Saker said.
The festival netted $6,200 in profit – seed money for next year, said T.J. Mohney, co-president.
The committee members talked about improvements they want to make for Summer Fest 2019, including getting a public address system, repositioning tents for greater visibility and accessibility, expanding offerings for kids, and finding a signature event for Sunday akin to what the parade does for Saturday.
Even though there are improvements that can be made, committee members saw no reason not to enjoy what they have been able to accomplish.
“I can’t believe how this has grown,” Malandro said. “It started as just a couple of churches.”
For more, see companion story: “Event draws visitors from all over region.”