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Hermantown Summerfest in jeopardy

The future of Hermantown's Summerfest is in doubt. City and Chamber of Commerce officials say that unless some volunteers come forward by the end of this month to organize the annual community festival, it will not happen this year. Mayor Dave Al...

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The future of Hermantown's Summerfest is in doubt. City and Chamber of Commerce officials say that unless some volunteers come forward by the end of this month to organize the annual community festival, it will not happen this year. Mayor Dave Allen, who used to work on planning the festival, says the event has gotten too big for one person to handle, and now that he's mayor, he has less time than ever to take on the task.
The event has grown over the years from just a parade to an all-day celebration of summer complete with softball, horseback rides, races, food and games for the kids. But all that takes time and planning, especially reserving the dunk tank and moonwalk.
"I would say if people don't step forward some time in March, it's going to be a dead issue," Allen said. "We're at a juncture. It's grown to a point where someone has to take over or we're going to lose it."
Allen and Kay Knight, with the Chamber of Commerce, say all the elements of Summerfest need to be in place by mid-April. "If we don't get the community volunteers, it ain't going to happen," Knight said. "We don't want to see it die that slow death."
There was no Summerfest last year because Hermantown had an all-year school reunion, and the same people who normally organized Summerfest put their energy into the reunion instead. This year, if volunteers don't come forward to organize Summerfest, it may signal a more permanent end to the annual community celebration.
Several small towns around Duluth have community festivals in the summer. Two Harbors, Cloquet and Proctor all have events that bring the community together. Hermantown has tried to get one together in past years, but it's faltering at this point.
Having a communitywide gathering in the summer can be a good way to build community spirit, says Knight. "That's the piece that people don't want to let go of," she said. "It is a sense of community. This is a community event bringing friends and neighbors together. While the kids are playing the games, parents are talking. In that sense, it's a real positive effect on the community. It's a time to come together as a community."
The Summerfest parade usually takes on the theme of Hermantown's history, honoring various people who played prominent roles in the development of the city.
"Different generations can get a feel of that leadership, where it's been and where it's going," Knight said. "That's part of the reason why we don't want to see this go away."

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